Vodaphone sign at the British mobile phone giant's German headquarters.
Vodaphone sign at the British mobile phone giant's German headquarters. - 
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KAI RYSSDAL: There was word today of a deal that did work. The British cell phone company Vodafone spent $11 billion for control of India's fourth-largest mobile phone operation. Fourth-largest doesn't sound like much.But Stephen Beard reports from London: Vodaphone's not worried about that.

STEPHEN BEARD: Having just spent billions on the deal, Vodaphone's boss Arun Sarin better be sure he's made the right decision.

Shareholders can relax, he says. He's just bought a piece of the fastest growing cell phone market in the world.

ARUN SARIN: India is a terrific market

a very fast growing market — and the only market which permits companies like Vodaphone to invest up to 74 percent in the Indian company.

Cell phone revenues per user are much lower in India. Only 20 percent what the average European will pay. But this market is all about volume and growth.

India's growth potential is staggering, says Scott Cleland with research firm Precursor LLC.

SCOTT CLELAND: They're hoping to take the cell phone market from 150 million cellphone users in India to 500 million in the next few years. There's no other market like it.

China is bigger. But, says Roger Entner of telecom consulting OVUM, you try breaking into the Chinese market.

ROGER ENTNER: The Chinese are not letting anybody in without their approval. And only permit a minority stake. So this makes India much easier to deal with and western companies actually are welcome there now.

There was a time when a British company's purchase of an Indian firm would trigger a riot. Not these days. Indians are more relaxed about globalization.

So they should be: an Indian company has just bought Britain's biggest steel firm. And Vodaphone's boss, Arun Sarin, is himself Indian.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.