Leading telecom Bharti Airtel on Wednesday created a new unit to drive its foreign expansion, signalling its growth ambitions are intact despite twice failing to reach a deal with South Africa’s MTN.
A day after agreeing to buy control of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom, Bharti said CEO Manoj Kohli would head the new international business group that would focus on expansion in emerging markets beyond South Asia.
“The next phase of our journey is set to be another game changer — requiring superior thrust and focused leadership,” Bharti founder and Chairman Sunil Mittal said in a statement.
“We continue to win in the Indian telecom market, which is going through a phase of hyper-competition. At the same time, we will be developing comprehensive plans for our journey to cover emerging markets beyond India and the South Asia,” Mittal said.
At 1:27 p.m. (0757 GMT) shares in Bharti Airtel, India’s seventh-most valuable listed company with a market capitalisation of about $27 billion, were down 1.9 percent in a Mumbai market that was down 0.6 percent.
Deputy CEO Sanjay Kapoor will become the CEO for India and South Asia when the changes take effect on April 1. The company has 119 million mobile users in India, about 23 percent of the world’s fastest-growing mobile market.
Bharti has been lookng for acquisitions in emerging markets where it can replicate its low-price, high-volume model, as its home turf becomes increasingly competitive. It held tie-up talks with MTN in 2008 and 2009 that would have catapulted it to top 10 of global telecoms, but could not seal a deal.
On Tuesday, Bharti agreed to buy a 70 percent stake in Bangladesh’s No. 4 operator Warid Telecom. Bharti also has mobile operations in Sri Lanka.
The company, owned more than 30 percent by SingTel, South East Asia’s top phone firm, is scheduled to announce its December quarter results on Jan. 22.