India's Videocon eyes Motorola's handset business

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian consumer electronics maker Videocon Industries Ltd VEDI.BO will bid for the handset unit of Motorola Inc MOT.N if the U.S. firm decides to sell the business, the chairman of Videocon said on Tuesday.

“We learnt from a reliable source that they will be selling it and when they do we are sending an expression of interest,” Venugopal Dhoot told Reuters.

Motorola declined to comment on Dhoot’s remarks.

Motorola said last week it plans to split into two publicly traded entities in 2009, separating its mobile phone unit from the rest of the business that makes television set-top boxes and network equipment.

Motorola shares rose 2.6 percent to $9.54 in midday trade amid similar gains in the telecommunications and technology sector, with the Nasdaq .IXIC and Dow Jones industrial average .DJI both up more than 2 percent.

Analysts see the split helping Motorola negotiate a joint venture or a sale for the cellphone business.

“It may be a very serious business for us because we have got mobile phone licenses for 22 circles in India. Apart from that, we have our own retail network with about 1,000 shops where we sell mobile phones,” Dhoot said.

He said Videocon was well positioned for a bid, which could be financed from internal accruals and debt.

India is the world’s fastest growing market for wireless subscribers, adding more than eight million users a month.

Total wireless users in India stood at nearly 251 million at the end of February, and are expected to surpass the United States as the world’s second-biggest market by mid-April after China.

Reporting by Jasudha Kirpalani; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan