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Vodafone and Birla fight to save Indian telecom joint venture

Lobbying intensifies as fate of Vodafone Idea rests in government's hands

MUMBAI -- When Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the $46 billion in revenue Aditya Birla Group, walked into Indian government offices in New Delhi last week with Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read in tow, they had only one mission: to salvage their joint venture Vodafone Idea from imminent financial collapse.

The meeting was called because Vodafone Idea, the mobile telecom company owned 27.6% by the Birla group and 44.3% by U.K.-listed Vodafone, will require a bailout package from the Indian government and lenders if it is to survive.

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