UPDATE: 7/14/2011, 11.14 a.m. The second paragraph of this article has been updated to include the names of Slaughter and May’s partners on the deal. The final paragraph has also been amended to reflect the change.

Slaughter and May has advised British mobile phone giant Vodafone Group PLC on its $5.5 billion buyout of its India joint venture partner.

The company’s India business, Vodafone Essar, was previously operated jointly with local conglomerate Essar Group, best known as a steel manufacturer. Slaughter and May partners Craig Cleaver, Sarah Lee, Sarah Paterson and Roland Turnill advised Vodafone from the firm’s London office. The company also turned to Delhi’s S&R Associates for Indian law advice.

The buyout, structured as two payments, one for $4.2 billion and the second for $1.3 billion, is seen as a move by Vodafone to strengthen its position in the world’s second-largest cell phone market by number of subscribers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Vodafone Essar is India’s third-largest mobile operator with 140 million subscribers. The joint venture was set up in 2007 after Vodafone won a fierce bidding war for a majority stake previously owned by Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa.

Herbert Smith represented Essar with a team led by London partners Clive Barnard and Greg Mulley. Mumbai-based AZB & Partners acted as local counsel for Essar, fielding a team led by partner Shameek Chaudhuri.

S&R Associates did not respond to requests for comment.

Email: jseah@alm.com