BENGALURU: Bharti Airtel is in talks to buy UK-based Vodafone Group's 21.05% stake in Indus Towers, potentially giving the Indian telecom operator a controlling stake, the Economic Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

If the deal fructifies, the British carrier could infuse some of the proceeds into Vodafone Idea, its cash-strapped Indian venture with Aditya Birla Group, the report said, citing unnamed sources.

Billionaire Sunil Mittal-led Airtel, Indus' largest shareholder with a 47.95% stake, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Vodafone Group, Vodafone Idea and Indus Towers also did not respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Airtel were up 0.2% while Vodafone Idea was down 3.5% in early trade on Wednesday. Indus Towers was trading 0.11% higher at 359.90 rupees.

The discussions, however, are stuck over valuation as Airtel is not willing to buy the stake at Indus Towers' current share price, which has climbed over 77% since January, the report said.

Airtel is looking for a valuation of 210-212 rupees per share - the level at which U.S. private equity fund KKR and Canadian pension fund Canada Pension Plan Investment Board sold shares in Indus in February, the newspaper reported.

Earlier this month, Vodafone Idea raised 20.75 billion rupees ($249.08 million) as part of a larger equity funding, from Aditya Birla Group entity Oriana Investments via preferential shares.

It plans to raise 200 billion rupees through equity and 250 billion rupees via debt, it said in February, to roll out its 5G network service and expand its 4G coverage. Larger rivals Airtel and Reliance Jio have already launched their 5G services in most parts of the country.

($1 = 83.3080 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Janane Venkatraman)