Shopping in international markets

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April. 3 – After Ratan Tata’s ambitious buy-out of Ford’s Jaguar and Land Rover for US$2.3 billion last week, its time for another ambitious Indian entrepreneur to take center stage. Venugopal Dhoot, Videocon’s 54 year old Chairman who bought French owned Thomson’s picture tube business for US$291 million has emerged as the front runner in bidding for ailing Motorola’s handset unit.

Videocon, an Indian homegrown brand, manufactures appliances and electronics and also has interests in real estate, oil, and power. While they haven’t revealed how much they bid, the company did confirm to Indian media that they had contacted Motorola for the buy-out. "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's handset business dovetails well with my telecom plans," he says.

Moving on from consumer electronics Dhoot now aggressively seeks his fortune in India’s booming telecom sector. Videocon won a bid for telecom licenses in November last year, and in the net three months plans to launch mobile services in 18 Indian cities and towns.

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.

Analysts see the split helping Motorola negotiate a joint venture or a sale for the cell phone business, Reuters reported.

"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.

Videocon, which has already marketed a range of Japanese consumer appliances from the likes of Sansui, Kenstar, and Akai in India, found itself suddenly in the global marketplace—and liked it. Shortly thereafter it acquired the Indian subsidiary of Electrolux and a year later, in 2006, Videocon made an unsuccessful run at South Korea's Daewoo Electronics.