Chairman’s SpeechPrint [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 100,000 students within a targeted timeframe. We have come across increasing participation from our employees in this mission by way of financial contributions and volunteering acts. I expect this spirit to bloom further during the coming years. After extremely productive stints, Paul OSullivan, Quah Kung Yang, Bashir
Currimjee and Mauro Sentinell have retired from the Bharti Airtel Board. I extend my sincere thanks to all of them for their valuable contributions during their tenure. I also welcome on board our new members Tan Yong Choo and Lim Chuan Poh. I am pleased to inform you that Manoj Kohli is now spearheading the International Business Group as CEO (International) & Joint Managing Director. Sanjay Kapoor has been elevated to the position of CEO (India & South Asia). I am confident that both Manoj and Sanjay will continue to drive our growth agenda with passion and commitment.
Your Company is taking a giant step forward to become a true global telecom powerhouse. Its a challenge of a different nature. But it is also an opportunity of a lifetime. We are eager to make the most of it. Like each one of you I too am looking forward to another exciting year ahead. 4 Sunil Bharti Mittal Chairman and Managing Director CEO’s Speech— [pic] Contd from above image speech….. I see our foray into Africa in the same vein. It is no doubt an exciting challenge – 15 countries, 42 mn customers, 15 different regulatory regimes, multiple time zones, ifferent currencies and cultures. However, waiting at the end of the rainbow is the chance of a lifetime – to firmly establish the next growth engine for Airtel and to partake in the wonderful growth story that is Africa. We are sitting on a huge growth potential, a market which is poised to become the largest in terms of population, urbanisation and middle class larger than India and China in coming decades. India and Africa are and will continue to be high growth markets. However, we must understand that we can’t use a one size fits all” model, as Africa is really not one country but an exciting collection of several countries. We will have to evolve country-by-country strategies. For this, we will bring tremendous scale and efficiency and more importantly, our execution excellence to the Africa operations. Having said this, I have high regard for the team that we have inherited from Zain. It has market leadership in 10 of the 15 markets and have done an excellent job in bringing the digital revolution to Africa. In Zain’s product portfolio, we have some extremely exciting services, like ZAP that won he ‘Best Mobile Money for the Unbanked Service’ award at GSMA, Barcelona and One Network and many others that would help us drive the telecom revolution in other emerging markets. I firmly believe leadership talent from the two continents will facilitate a robust process of cross-pollination of ideas, practices and people that will take Bharti Airtel to new heights. Through the transformation that we intend to bring to our Africa operations, we will continue to hold dear the principles on which Airtel has built its formidable reputation – “retain the soul of a small company and nurture our entrepreneurial pirit”. To me, going global is not an event. It is a journey with many milestones along the way. The immediate objective will be to put our foot on the accelerator and drive the growth momentum in all our territories. In addition, we will integrate the African assets with the view to retain the best that we have across both South Asia and the Africa operations. In the first 4 weeks after the closure of the deal on June 8, 2010, we have moved swiftly to build a shared vision 2015 for Airtel in Africa, our new business model, strategies and culture with 30 leaders of Africa. We have also met all the governments, banks, partners and employees in each of the 15 countries and have shared our vision and plans with them. Clearly, all these stakeholders are extremely excited on the future prospects and have joined the Airtel journey with enthusiasm. Acquisition of Zain Africa is clearly amongst the biggest professional challenge that any Indian company has undertaken in recent times. The big test for us lies in transporting our unique business model and recreating our rand magic across the large population in the new continent and be seen as a global corporation with global best practices. Our partner ecosystem linked through a rich culture of win-win collaboration will undoubtedly be the bedrock of our strategy. Finally, it is an opportunity to contribute to another societal transformation in Africa by dedicating our CSR efforts to educate under-privileged children. We have overcome many challenges in the past; we will go past this one as well. Manoj Kohli CEO (International) & Joint Managing Director