The operator logo on my mobile started showing Vodafone today.


World’s leading mobile operator, Vodafone, has started using its brand across India from today. Vodafone had acquired Hutch for nearly $11 billion in February this year.

Vodafone will spend around Rs 200 crore ($50 million) on the biggest brand change exercise in the country, covering nearly 35 million customers and 4,00,000 shops across India. The company has entered into an exclusive deal with Star India network, whereby it will use all of the commercial airtime from 9 pm on September 20 to 9 pm of September 21 to run TV commercials and promote the Vodafone brand.

Am not impressed with the ads so far. They look like a product made in haste – struggling to meet the September 20 deadline. Seeing Vodafone ads run continuously on Star TV in the past hour is beginning to get on my nerves.

Even the outdoor campaign is unimposing. The hoardings are advertising the new website but its not yet working. Does someone in an agency check all the response media mentioned in an ad like the phone number, sms shortcode and website address – before releasing the ad?

Though they are not paying me for this, but I am renaming the category “Hutch” to “Vodafone” on MobilePundit.

Also Read: Vodafone wants India to see red as it readies major brand launch


GSM operators added 50 lakh (5 million) subscribers in May, taking the all-India GSM subscriber base to 13.06 crore (130 million).

  • Bharti Airtel = 18.51 lakh new, 4.07 crore total
  • BSNL = 2.38 lakh new, 2.79 crore total
  • Hutch-Essar = 15.06 lakh new, 2.92 crore total
  • Idea = 7.03 lakh new, 1.52 crore total
  • Aircel = 64.08 lakh total
  • Spice = 1.92 lakh new, 30 lakh total
  • MTNL = 64,098 new, 25.47 lakh total

Hutch-Essar (Vodafone) has become the second largest GSM player in the country, displacing BSNL.

Hutchison Essar MD, Asim Ghosh sounds like a Bollywood actress denying she is in the race to be No. 1.

“We don’t watch subscribers


i-modeJapanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo has annulled its contract with Hutch Essar (HEL) to provide its


Vodafone purchased Hutchison Telecommunications’ 67 per cent stake in Hutchison Essar for $11.1 billion (Rs 48,540 cr), which values the Hutch Essar at $18.8 billion, including debt.

Hindu Businessline quotes Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel saying that the company would up the ante knowing that Vodafone would come hard to grab more market share.

When asked to comment on the Vodafone bid, Mr Mittal said that if he were representing Vodafone, then he would have paid a few billion dollars more to acquire Hutch.

On the other hand, the two giants are also co-operating.

Bharti has signed an infrastructure sharing agreement with Vodafone, which would allow both operators to share nearly 70,000 mobile towers across the country.

Bharti would also be Vodafone’s preferred long distance telephony service provider.

Bharti would make Vodafone its preferred roaming partner.

Business Standard
reports that the company is set to introduce low-cost handsets and new value-added services such as mobile payments and money transfers.

Vodafone recently reached the 200-million subscriber mark. The company believes that emerging markets are approximately 60 per cent of the total expected growth in the next five years. The CAGR is 12.3 per cent as compared with 4.4 per cent in developed markets.

Speaking to the media at the 3GSM World Congress 2007, Arun Sarin, CEO, Vodafone mentioned that he wanted Asim Ghosh to retain his position in the company.

He noted that while India boasted of 400 minutes of use per subscriber per month, Europe speaks of 150 minutes and the US of 800 minutes.

The company has already been exploring the mobile advertising and social networking spaces, besides the mobile payments (including money transfers) and mobile TV.

Vodafone already has partnerships towards these ends with the likes of YouTube (videos), MySpace (social networking), Google (search), Yahoo (Instant messaging) and eBay to name a few.

Sarin, however, cautioned that “we need to define common standards. We need to define the size of banner advertisements and video advertisements besides reporting platforms to make mobile advertising a success


VodafoneVodafone has acquired Hutch for an estimated enterprise value of over US $19 billion (Rs 85,000 crores). Vodafone is the world’s largest mobile phone group by revenue and Hutch is India’s fourth largest mobile operator.

CNN-IBN reports that Vodaphone has offered Essar to become a partner firm. Essar welcomed the offer and said it is indeed “good price


Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa group is believed to be considering a sale of its telecom business, including its highly lucrative Indian operations.

Sources close to Hutchison Whampoa said the Hong Kong-based giant is willing to consider a sale. While no formal mandate has been given, Goldman Sachs and ABN Amro are believed to have talked to investors for a possible purchase of the stake.

American private equity firms Blackstone Group and Texas Pacific Partners are looking at buying Hutchison Essar, the country’s fourth-largest telecom operator. Blackstone and Texas Pacific may shell out in excess of $8 billion to acquire Hutchison Telecommunications International’s (HTIL) holding in its Indian joint venture Hutch Essar.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Blackstone is in talks with Reliance Communications to bid for the operations. However, an Anil Ambani group official dismissed the possibility.

Hutchison Essar’s enterprise valuation is at over $11 billion. HTIL owns 67% in Hutch Essar, its joint venture with the Essar group which holds rest of the equity. Egyptian cellular operator Orascom indirectly holds close to 12% in the joint venture.

Hutch Essar doubled its user base to 20 million in the last 12 months and expects to close the current year with 25 million users.

This kind of numbers, Ka Shing told the Ruias, will double the valuation of the business over the next couple of years. Exiting at this point, therefore, would be akin to selling cheap


Differences between the two JV partners of Hutch — Hutchison International and Essar Group — have led to the scrapping of plans to list Hutchison Essar.

Hutchison group MD Canning Fok was quoted as saying:

“the original plan to list the business was largely to fulfil the commitment made by the group to JV partner Essar.

When you have disagreements you don’t go for listing…

The time has gone now… After we listed HTIL, I don’t need a listing in India…”

India is the biggest contributor to HTIL‘s revenues.

In a positive development for the company, Hutchinson Essar is moving closer to a pan Indian presence with the receipt of “Letters of Intent” for six new telecom licenses in North East, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.

Hutch, the third-largest GSM operator in the country, expects to launch in these licence areas during 2007.

A Letter of Intent from the DoT is the government’s offer to issue a licence upon the applicant’s acceptance and payment of the relevant fees.


The Essar group has called off a proposed merger of BPL’s operations in Mumbai with Hutchison Essar citing non-receipt of government approvals.

The share purchase agreement signed between BPL Mobile and Hutchison Essar was conditional on the parties receiving DoT approvals by July 31. Since the approvals were not received until this date, the purchase was not completed and the agreement has been terminated

Essar is a minority partner in Hutchison Essar, holding about 33% in India’s 4th largest operator, which is controlled by Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd.

In July 2005, Essar bought a controlling stake in two mobile services companies operated by BPL group in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.

It sold BPL Mobile Communications, which operates GSM services in Mumbai, and BPL Mobile Cellular, which operates GSM services in Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala, to Hutchison Essar for $1.154 billion.

The government approved the deal for BPL Mobile Cellular, but did not give the go-ahead for the merger of the Mumbai operations by July 31, the mutual deadline agreed by both parties.

Hutchison Essar needed separate approval for the BPL Mobile Communications deal as it also offers mobile services in Mumbai and current regulations are hazy on mergers between companies offering services in the same area.

DoT officials maintain that the delay has occurred as it was still verifying facts about the actual ownership of BPL’s mobile business. While BPL Communications is believed to have complied, the government was studying the details.

Hutch is the largest player in Mumbai with over 2.1 million users, while Reliance comes second with 1.8 million subscribers, followed by Bharti with 1.4 million and BPL with 1.3 million users.

Stung by the termination issued by its joint-venture partner, Hutch has moved Bombay High Court against the notice.

When contacted, an Essar official told media that as per the agreement if the approval did not come by the due date (July 31), either party could terminate the agreement. We have done exactly that as the approval from the Government did not come by that date, he said.

Hutch officials did not disclose the plea under which they had moved court against the notice, saying the matter is now subjudice.

Differences had been brewing between the two JV partners for a long time.

While Essar wanted a greater say in the company’s matters, Hutchison was taking actions without adequately consulting the group. Unhappy with the equity sale by Hutchison Telecom International to Egypt’s Orascom, Essar had also written letters to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), DoT and the defence ministry, raising security concerns.

According to reports, Essar has already started looking for partners to sell BPL’s Mumbai circle. It has appointed Standard Chartered Bank as an advisor to find buyers. Several leading telecom companies are believed to have shown interest.

Idea is keen to enter Mumbai and has applied for a licence for the circle… Reliance Communications is also eager to roll out GSM services in Delhi and Mumbai.

BPL’s growth and subscriber base in Mumbai is suffering due to the prevailing uncertainity. Over 10,300 subscribers have opted out of BPL in the past two months.

Hutchison Essar had earlier entered a purchase agreement with Aircel, also conditional on the receipt of government approvals under the intra circle merger guidelines. That deal was called off as approvals were not received. Aircel was later bought by Malaysia’s Maxis.

Sources: Financial Express and ET


The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has cleared Hutch Essar’s proposal to raise FDI from 49% to 68%, notwithstanding the strong opposition from National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and the company’s Indian partner, Essar.

The foreign investment includes the contentious 10% indirect shareholding of Egypt-based Orascom, which it holds by virtue of its 19.3% equity in Hutch International.

National Security Advisor had objected to the deal saying that Orascom’s acquisition of equity in HTIL was a threat to national security as it was a dominant player in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The board’s decision shows that the institutional decision-making process is capable of insulating itself from unreasonable insecurities on the national security front. This is likely to give comfort to potential commercial partners in countries such as Egypt, where questions against Orascom had raised hackles.

This is also a cause of dispute between Essar and Hutch.

Essar says that it was not taken into confidence when Hutch sold equity in HTIL to Orascom. In a letter to the telcom department it had sought clarification on whether entry of a strategic partner (Orascom) at the foreign holding company level (HTIL), required prior DoT approval, especially if such shareholding change in the holding company triggers changes in the indirect shareholding of Hutch Essar.

The FIPB clearance includes Hutchison Telecommunication (India)’s acquisition of an additional 5.11% stake in the unlisted Indian cellular JV of Hutchison Essar for $450m from Hinduja TMT.

Source: ET


Hutch is in trouble with authorities in Haryana because close to 50% its users in the circle have been issued SIM cards on the basis of forged identity documents.

Superintendent of Police Kaithal, Navdeep Singh Virk told media that the total subscriber base of Hutch in Haryana Circle as on April 30, 2006 is 3,73,801 and nearby half these mobiles were issued allegedly on forged identity documents.

Two FIR’s were already registered against top executives of both companies, Virk said, adding most of these prepaid connections had fallen into the hands of criminals and anti-social elements here.

A Hutch company spokesman said the issue of subscriber verification was not unique to the company and its policy was to consistently reinforce implementation of the subscriber verification process with its trade representatives and partners.

Source: ET