Home Economy Vodafone to invest $2 bn, to bring low-cost handsets

Vodafone to invest $2 bn, to bring low-cost handsets


Mumbai : British telecom giant Vodafone Plc., which acquired India's third largest mobile operator Hutch-Essar in April by paying $10.9 billion, Friday said it would be investing $2 billion in consolidating and expanding its business here.

"The meting was excellent, we would soon be investing $2 billion in India this year," Vodafone chief Arun Sarin told reporters here after having its first board meeting, which also included the Ruias of Essar.

Sarin also said the investment would be done in phases as the company gradually penetrates into the country. It also plans to bring in low-cost handsets in the one of the world's fastest growing telecom markets that adds over six million users a month.

The Indian-born CEO also said he hopes of constructing the board by September this year, which will initially have 12 members – eight from Vodafone while Essar, which owns 33 percent stake in it, would be represented by four members.

It has also been confirmed that Essar's vice chairman Ravi Ruia would be chairman of the new joint venture while Vodafone's Sarin would be vice-chairman.

Adding that the date for changing the brand has not yet been decided, Sarin said: "We are very interested in setting up a platform with whoever wants to join us so that we can build our network in India in a cost-effective way."

"Hutch-Essar would be soon known as Vodafone-Essar," said Ruia.

London-headquartered Vodafone's takeover of 52-percent stake in Hutch-Essar from Hutchison Telecommunications, a company based in Hong Kong, owned by industrialist Li-Kashing, was challenged by the government over the structure of foreign equity.

However, it was eventually cleared by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), a government body and then by Finance Minister P.Chidambaram on May 4, paving the way for the acquisition.