MUMBAI: The bidding war is hotting up for Indian cellphone operator Hutchison Essar as potential buyers mull the current owners' desire for offers in excess of $14 billion (€10.64bn; £7.14bn).

Among the runners in the race for the sub-continent's fourth biggest cellphone business are UK-headquartered Vodafone [WARC News: 26-Dec-06), Reliance Communications, the number two operator in India, and industrial conglomerate Essar, which already holds a third of the company.

Says Frank Sixt, finance chief of Hong Kong-headquartered Hutchison Whampoa which controls the Indian business: "A lot of people are interested in having an Indian asset. We have one which we are very pleased with. And really there has not been anything that would rise to the level of being an offer capable of acceptance."

He was referring to a rejection of a $13.5bn offer from US private equity group Texas Pacific and Malaysian mobile operator Maxis.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff