[pic]Mar2009 Mar 2010
The past one year has been a truly momentous one for your Company. Not only have we excelled in reiterating our leadership in the domestic market but also embarked upon an exciting journey into the global telecom space. After fifteen years of successful operation and an impressive presence across the South Asian region, Bharti Airtel is truly on the cusp of a huge transformation, and ready to move to the next level.
As a conscious strategy, we have decided to focus on the emerging markets of Asia and Africa. We believe these markets will continue to be the growth engines of the telecom world.
With its billion plus population, vast natural resources and a tele-density of less than 30%, I firmly believe, Africa is going to be a market for the future and the next growth engine of the global economy. As a first step, we have successfully completed the acquisition of Zain Africa BVs operations in 15 countries having 42 mn customers for an enterprise value of USD 10.7 bn. In view of the tremendous future potential of these markets and Zains leadership position therein, we consider this a game changing acquisition. This has catapulted us to the league of leading mobile operators in the world. With a total customer base of more than 185 mn, we are within striking distance to be among the top three operators in the world by 2015.
Closer home, we have further strengthened our presence in the South Asian region. After our successful foray into Sri Lanka last year, we entered the Bangladesh market during the year by acquiring a majority stake in Warid Telecom. Brand Airtel has been well received in Sri Lanka, where the Company became the fastest growing telecom operator to cross one million customer mark within the first six months of operation. We will soon be launching the Airtel brand in Bangladesh and Africa.
In the Indian market, 2009-10 was an unusual year for telecom industry. Despite buoyant customer additions, revenues failed to show corresponding growth. Several new operators have entered the market. With 12-13 operators per circle, competition has reached a new peak. This is clearly an unviable situation and unlikely to continue for long and we expect some consolidation to happen in the industry. Despite the unfavourable competitive scenario, our consistent focus on rural penetration and affordability continued to deliver encouraging results in the domestic market.
With the completion of the auction for 3G and BWA spectrum, telecom services in India are ready to take a big leap forward. Amidst stiff competition, your Company has won 3G spectrum in 13 circles for a total consideration of Rs 12,295.46 cr. Though we would have loved to have a pan India 3G footprint, under the present circumstances we have done well to secure presence in key circles to drive our long-term growth plans. In the broadband wireless auction too we have secured a strategic presence across select circles to experiment with new technologies.
People and Partners will continue to play a central role in our future endeavours. Their role will be particularly critical in Africa. Key to our success there will lie in our ability to drive seamless knowledge and best practice sharing between Africa and South Asia. I am confident the Airtel Africa Leadership Team will be able to transport the successful business model to the new environment. We are also keen on replicating our phenomenally successful relationships with our partners in the new markets.
As a sincere corporate citizen, we strongly subscribe to the principle of inclusive growth and strive to impact lives around us in a positive way. Bharti Foundation continued to drive our social agenda of imparting quality education to underprivileged children in rural India purposefully through the year. Currently catering to approximately 30,000 students with 1,200 teachers in 236 schools across six states, we are on course to reach out to...