Vodafone has confirmed that it plans to spend Rs101bn ($1.6bn) buying out minority investors in its Indian operations, following rule changes permitting 100 per cent ownership by foreign telecom companies in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The move makes Vodafone the largest international group to take advantage of the liberalisation measures, and follows moves by SingTel of Singapore to buyout the local partners in its SingTel India operation earlier this week.

In a statement Vodafone said: “We have always said we would like to increase our holding in the business and this further investment demonstrates Vodafone’s long-term commitment to India.”

The move is likely to be welcomed by India’s government, which has courted international investors by liberalised ownership rules in sectors including telecoms, retail and defence, but has as yet seen little response from major global companies.

Vodafone said the move would lift its ownership stake from its current level of 64 per cent, in a process that involved buying out a small number of local investors, including billionaire industrialist Ajay Piramal, who held 11 per cent of the company.

Vodafone’s management have said that the group is preparing to increase capital expenditure at its Indian division, as part of a wider investment drive following the company’s $130bn sale of its stake in US-based Verizon Wireless.

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