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Essar Bid Deadline Looms

9:30 AM -- Reports from India suggest that midnight tonight is the cut-off point for bids for a controlling stake in mobile operator Hutchison Essar , though a decision on who gets the prize is still believed to be some weeks away.

Up to five suitors are expected to submit an offer to Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. (NYSE: HTX), which is looking to offload its 67 percent stake.

Numbers in excess of $14 billion are being quoted as the starting price for that stake -- a lot of cash for India's fourth mobile carrier.

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and Reliance Communications Ltd. (RCom) are among those mulling bids, while speculation in India even names Verizon Wireless , in which Vodafone owns a 45 percent stake, and the private equity arm of Russia's Alfa Group as potential bidders.

Check out our previous coverage of this ongoing M&A saga:

— Ray Le Maistre, International Speculation Editor, Light Reading

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