Vodafone Essar arms get ‘rouge’

The complex Hutch Essar-Vodafone integration process is close to conclusion. The government on Thursday cleared the formal rechristening of Mumbai-based Hutchison Essar Ltd to Vodafone Essar Ltd (VEL). Vodafone Essar will be the umbrella holding company of all Vodafone entities in India. The registrar of companies in the ministry of company affairs has also cleared the rechristening of the earlier Hutchison Essar’s seven Indian subsidiaries in their new ‘Vodafone’ avatar.

Indications are that this rechristening exercise will pave the way for an ‘orange sunset’ and the arrival of the Vodafone ‘rouge’ in India. UK’s Vodafone Group holds a 52% controlling interest in Vodafone Essar through its subsidiary Vodafone International Holdings BV. The Essar group hold 33% while the balance 15% interest is held by Vodafone partners — entities controlled by Vodafone Essar MD Asim Ghosh, Max India group chairman Analjit Singh and IDFC.

Confirming the developments, company sources told ET: “The ministry of company affairs has issued the necessary clearances for rechristening our Mumbai-based holding company Hutchison Essar to Vodafone Essar.”

Vodafone Essar will have seven wholly-owned subsidiaries. Hutchison Essar Mobile Services (holder of the Delhi licence) has been renamed Vodafone Essar Mobile Services; Fascel (holder of the Gujarat licence) has been renamed Vodafone Essar Gujarat; Hutchison Telecom East (holder of the Kolkata metro licence) has been rechristened Vodafone Essar East; Hutchison Essar South (holder of licences to the Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, UP (West), Punjab and West Bengal circles) has been rechristened Vodafone Essar South while Aircel Digilink India (holder of the Rajasthan, Haryana and UP-East circle licences) will now be Vodafone Essar Digilink.

This apart, Hutchison Essar Cellular (holder of the Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu licences acquired from the erstwhile BPL Cellular) has been renamed Vodafone Essar Cellular while Essar Spacetel has been rechristened Vodafone Essar Spacetel. Vodafone Essar Spacetel will hold six category B&C licences for Bihar, Orissa, Assam, North-East, Himachal Pradesh and J&K circles. Vodafone Spacetel is yet to receive the licence for the Madhya Pradesh circle.