Vodafone secured its expansion into the fast growing Indian cell phone market, gaining control of the nation's No. 4 cell phone operator for $11.1 billion.

Sunday, Vodafone said it acquired a 67 percent stake in mobile firm Hutchison Essar Ltd.

This announcement is clear evidence of how we are executing our strategy of developing our presence in emerging markets, chief executive of Vodafone, Arun Sarin said in a statement.

The deal values Hutchison at $18.8 billion. Vodafone will also take on $2B in debt. The British firm also beat out rival bidders, including Indian firm Reliance Communications, the Hinduja group, and Essar itself.

Vodafone currently has a 10 percent stake in India's largest cell phone operator, Bharti Airtel Ltd.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of calendar year 2007. Vodafone said it gave Bharti the option of buying a $5.6 percent stake for $1.6 billion. It will hold on to the remaining stake.

Hutchison Essar had about 24.4 million subscribers at the end of 2006, a 16 percent share of the market.