The deal does come with many challenges: large markets like Nigeria have a low revenues as well as low average revenue per user (ARPU), and no presence in important markets like South Africa.
Chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Group, Sunil Bharti Mittal, spoke with Hindustan Times on phone about his strategy. Excerpts:
Why is the Zain deal so important for Bharti?
It is a big move. For the last two years we have been trying to become an international player. We are delighted we have managed to achieve this.
Is the deal lucrative, considering the big gap in revenues and ARPUs of Zain and its main competitor MTN?
It is true that there is a big gap between MTN and Zain in some countries including Nigeria, which is a big market. However, now we have got a base in these countries. We will soon close the gap and you will see major changes in next 12 months.
How will you resolve the Nigeria problem, where local partners are in litigation with Zain?
The litigation is going on for four to five years. We get 65% equity, which is clearly available to us (not under litigation). The balance 35% is with local shareholders. We will work closely with them.
Do you plan to expand into more countries beyond those covered by the Zain deal?
Right now we will work on what we have gained. Once we consolidate, we will look into additional opportunities in Africa.
What about outside Africa?
No, right now our focus will be only in Africa. All our expansions will be in Africa.