New Delhi, January 19, 2009
telecom giant Vodafone Monday said it will continue
to invest heavily in India. The announcement came
at the same time as Vodafone Essar, one of India's
leading cellular service providers, stated that
it has crossed the 7.5 million subscriber mark
in Gujarat. Vodafone with a coverage in more than
236 cities and towns and 15,120 villages has seen
its subscriber base jumping from 2 million in
January 2006 to 7.5 million in January 2009 in
"A wide network spread
across cities, towns and villages coupled with
relevant products such as the Vodafone Magic Box
and a strong sales and distribution network have
contributed to the phenomenal growth in our subscriber
base in Gujarat," said Balesh Sharma, chief
operating officer of Vodafone Essar, Gujarat.
The company now has 54 stores,
385 mini-stores, and self service kiosks across
the Gujarat circle. Vodafone Essar is a subsidiary
of Vodafone Group in India and commenced operations
in 1994 when its predecessor Hutchison Telecom
acquired the cellular licence for Mumbai.
Vodafone Essar now operates
in 22 circles with over 58.76 million customers.
Worldwide Vodafone is present in 25 countries
spread across five continents with 40 partner
networks covering 280 million customers. It has
partnered with the Essar Group for the Indian
We see an addition
of eight to nine million mobile subscribers here.
This means India needs more investment. We will
continue to invest more as there are opportunities
here, Vodafone Plc chief executive Vittorio
Colao told reporters on the sidelines of a Confederation
of Indian Industry conference here.
We still have four
percent stake in Bharti Airtel. One day we (Vodafone
and Bharti Group) will discuss what to do with
it, he said, adding: To have a discussion
on any issue we need to have both the partners.
Vodafone, which earlier held
a 10 percent stake in Bharti Group, had exited
it partly, while its indirect stake in the group's
mobile arm, Bharti Airtel, remained. Colao also
called for more clarity in India's foreign investment
policies across different sectors. Exuding confidence
in India's growth potential, he said India should
extend a welcoming hand to foreign investors in
order to attract much-needed capital to keep growth
on track. According to him, a "suitably regulated
yet liberal policy environment" would be
beneficial for India's growth prospects.
Vodafone last year acquired
a controlling stake in the Hong Kong-based Hutchison
in a $1.2-billion deal to take control of Vodafone
Essar - which is the second largest GSM operator
in India in terms of subscribers.