Vodafone Case Shareholders Agreement

Vodafone Case Shareholders Agreement: Everything You Need to Know

The Vodafone case is one of the most high-profile disputes in the corporate world. This case is about a shareholder agreement between Vodafone and Essar, two companies that were joint venture partners in India. The dispute arose when Vodafone tried to acquire the shares of Essar.

In this article, we will discuss the Vodafone case shareholders agreement in detail, including the background, the legal dispute, and the resolution.


In 2007, Vodafone acquired a 67% stake in Hutchison Essar, an Indian telecom company. Essar, an Indian conglomerate, owned the remaining 33% stake.

As per the shareholders` agreement, Essar had the option to sell its 33% stake to Vodafone. However, the agreement had a “call and put” option, which meant that Vodafone could also buy Essar`s stake at a predetermined price, and Essar could sell its stake at the same price.

In 2010, Vodafone decided to exercise its call option and buy Essar`s stake. However, Essar disputed the price, and the dispute ended up in court.

Legal Dispute

Essar argued that Vodafone had undervalued its shares and that the price should be much higher. The case went to the Bombay High Court, which ruled that Vodafone had to pay Essar an additional amount of $2.6 billion.

Vodafone appealed the decision in the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Vodafone. The court stated that the Indian tax authorities could not tax Vodafone for the transaction since the sale was between two foreign companies.

However, the dispute between Vodafone and Essar continued, as Essar claimed that Vodafone had breached the shareholders` agreement by not giving Essar the opportunity to buy Vodafone`s stake.


In 2011, Vodafone and Essar reached a settlement, where Vodafone paid Essar $5.46 billion to buy out its stake in the company. The settlement also included a clause that stated that Essar could not claim any further damages or disputes related to the shareholders` agreement.


The Vodafone case is a prime example of how important it is to have a clear and well-defined shareholders` agreement. A shareholder agreement is critical in outlining the rights and obligations of all parties involved, thereby minimizing the risk of disputes and conflicts.

As a professional, it`s essential to emphasize the importance of businesses and individuals having a clear understanding of their shareholders` agreements in any joint venture. In today`s global economy, companies are more likely to enter into partnerships with foreign companies. Hence, it`s essential to understand the legal and regulatory frameworks within which any joint venture will operate.

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