Mittal unveils mega investment plan
Striving to retain the leadership position in the mobile industry, Bharti Airtel will invest a massive $ eight billion by 2010 to have a 25 per cent market share.
"By 2010, estimates are that India will have a subscriber base of 400-500 million. Bharti strives to retain up to 125 million or 25 per cent of the market," group Chairman Sunil Mittal told the agency.
The aggressive expansion programme assumes importance in the wake of imminent entry of global mobile leader Vodafone through acquisition of Hutch-Essar, announcement of after which Mittal had said that Bharti would continue to be the numero uno player in India.
The company since its inception has made an investment of about $ eight billion (about Rs 36,000 crore) for various services, including mobile, basic, national and international long distance, undersea cable and broadband services.
"We are spending nearly $ two billion every year as the future (in terms of creation of infrastructure) continues to be stronger than the past. By 2010, we would have doubled the investment.
"We had put up about 10,000 base stations by 2005 end, another 10,000 by 2006 and this year (2007-08) we would add about 20,000," he said.
Stating that Bharti has a subscriber base of about 34-35 million, Mittal said based on annualised figure of last quarter, revenues would be touching $ four billion (Rs 18,000 crore) this year and could double by 2010.
Asked whether Bharti would continue the investment in telecom sector at the same pace, Mittal said it has been doubling the infrastructure (base stations) every year and by March next year, Bharti would have 40,000 base stations.
But the number of towers to be added in the 2008-09 fiscal would be less than what has been added till now.
"I may add 30,000 tower in 2008-09. So, for the first time we will see less number of towers coming in than what we did in the past. So that is the time you start getting some ease on the investment side," Mittal said.
Bharti, which recently agreed to buy back 5.6 per cent direct stake held by UK's Vodafone for $ 1.8 billion, has not yet taken any decision whether to retain the equity with itself or sell it fully or partly.
"These are liquid shares. Although SingTel has expressed desire to increase their stake in Bharti, but no decision has been taken," Mittal said.
As part of the deal with Vodafone, Bharti will be getting entire traffic of NLD and ILD originating from Hutch-Essar and also 50 per cent of the traffic of international roaming users coming to India.
The infrastructure sharing is part of Vodafone getting clearance from Bharti to acquire Hutch-Essar.