Vodafone is facing a new rival in its effort to win control of India's fourth-largest mobile phone operator, media reports say.
India's mobile market is growing fast as consumer spending rises
Last week, the UK group announced its intention to seek a majority stake in Hutchison Essar, as part of its drive to expand in fast-moving markets.
But Indian conglomerate Essar, which has 33% of Hutchison Essar, is now said to have offered to buy the rest.
Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom says several firms are after its 67% stake.
Hutchison Telecom also runs networks in countries including Thailand and Israel, but relies on its Indian stake for as much as 80% of its operating income.
The company is part of the Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate, which has reportedly indicated that only offers of more than $14bn will be considered.
According to accounts in several British newspapers, Essar has made an approach to Hutchison to buy out the entire business, in a deal valuing the joint venture at about $18bn (£9.2bn).
The buy-out would be a severe blow to the ambitions of Vodafone, which is eager to build a more substantial presence in the world's fastest-growing telecoms market.
Vodafone already owns 10% of Bharti Airtel, the market leader in India.
Foreign firms are limited to owning 74% of Indian mobile phone providers.