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Piramal Group might sell Vodafone stake this year

Press Trust Of India  |  Mumbai 

today said it planned to offload its 11 per cent stake in telecom major Vodafone India, and was well on track to do so.

"We had invested in Vodafone and it was a 24-36-month exit plan. We are still on track for that and we will exit either sometime this year or next," Piramal Group Chairman told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

Pirmal Healthcare had picked up 11 per cent stake for Rs 5,900 crore in two tranches in the Indian arm of Vodafone. The company had paid Rs 2,893 crore in August 2011 for 5.5 per cent stake and then another Rs 3,007 crore in February last year for 5.5 per cent.

Piramal said his company chose to invest in Vodafone for the short term because of strong growth prospects. The company was expecting 17-20 per cent return in around 18 months.

"We are merely a short-term investor in Vodafone. We don't want to be in the telecom sector for long. We have three options to exit. We could exit when Vodafone comes out with an initial public offering, or we could sell our stake to other companies, or we could even sell it to Vodafone," Piramal earlier had said.

To a question on his group's foray into the banking space, Piramal said the group was still weighing the prospects.

Voda hopeful on tax case
non-executive Chairman today exuded confidence that a solution would be found to the Rs 11,200-crore tax liability case. "We are hopeful of a solution," Singh said after meeting Finance Minister P Chidambaram, but refused to provide further details.

The issue relates to the British firm's acquisition of Indian telecom assets of Hutchison Whampoa. Chidambaram, too, had said the government would find a solution to the tax issue.

Vodafone has been slapped with an income tax demand notice of Rs 11,200 crore on its 2007 acquisition of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa's stake in its Indian telecom business.

Vodafone had written to the finance ministry, seeking settlement of the tax issue.

This follows the finance ministry's reminder notice to the UK-telcom giant Vodafone in January for payment of tax. The liability arose following the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee amending the Income Tax Act, 1961 with retrospective effect to undo the Supreme Court judgement that had ruled in favour of the company.

First Published: Fri, April 05 2013. 00:41 IST