Tele Talk

MUMBAI, July 19, 2010 (AFP) – Shares in India’s Reliance Communications rose nearly four percent Monday on a media report that Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat was close to buying a 26-percent stake in the firm for 3.0 billion dollars. Reliance paid the government 85.8 billion rupees (1.86 billion dollars) for third-generation (3G) spectrum at a recently concluded auction and is now expected to spend billions more upgrading its network. Reliance, the country’s second biggest mobile phone firm, led by billionaire Anil Ambani, is looking for an investor to help raise cash to reduce its debt and upgrade its network.

Reliance Communications shares rose to a day’s high of 194.45 on Monday, up 3.92 percent. They have risen over 40 percent in the past two months, on speculation about interest by an overseas investor in the company.

“Etisalat is close to buying a 26 percent stake in Reliance Communications,” the Financial Times reported Monday, citing unnamed sources.

A Reliance official declined to comment on the matter.

Etisalat operates in 18 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, servicing over 100 million customers.

Last month, the Reliance Communications board gave the nod for a strategic or private e