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Hutch enters Punjab

Mumbai, Feb. 4: The Hutchison Essar group joint venture is buying the cellular licence for the Punjab circle from Escotel Mobile Communications. An announcement is expected to be made shortly. Sources in the industry said that the Hutchison joint venture is buying the Punjab circle and not picking up an equity in Escotel Mobile.

When contacted a senior official from the Hutch group confirmed that the deal has been finalised in-principle and is now subject to various regulatory approvals.“In-principle we have agreed to buy the licence. However, I cannot disclose the price that will be paid for the acquisition,” he said. The main objective of the acquisition is to expand the group’s coverage in the country, he added.

Escotel is a joint venture between Escorts Ltd, which holds 51 per cent stake and Hong Kong-based First Pacific Company holding 49 per cent stake. Reports say that First Pacific has been looking for exiting its operations in India for quite some time now.

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