Vodafone sells 5.5% of Indian operation to healthcare provider

International carrier Vodafone has sold 5.5 per cent of Indian operation Vodafone Essar to Indian medical services provider Piramal Healthcare for $640m. Vodafone is required to divest the stake to bring it back below the 74 percent ownership threshold, which is the Indian limit for foreign investment within a company. In July Vodafone acquired Essar’s holding in the operation, taking it beyond that threshold.

The partnership between a mobile operator and healthcare provider might turn out to be more than just a convenient financial relationship. Wireless health solutions are an area of increasing interest to mobile operators, especially in emerging markets, where traditional health infrastructures are less developed.

In 2009 Vodafone created the Vodafone Health Solutions business unit, which is located within its Global Enterprise division. The unit is tasked with developing a global portfolio of health-related services.

According to the World Health Organization, between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of people worldwide aged over 60 will grow from 600 million to two billion. As the population ages, more and more people are living with chronic disease, shifting the focus of the healthcare sector from acute care—battling illness that is serious but brief or episodic—to the ongoing management of long term conditions like heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. The ageing of the population will be most keenly felt in populous, emerging markets like China and India.

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