Airtel has weathered three-four big crises, including disruptions caused by the 2016 launch of Jio, and has emerged in a healthy shape gaining on several counts in a market that “is down to three private sector operators” where one player “is becoming increasingly a question mark”, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal said on Thursday.
Mittal also said India will be a force in the next 5-10 years as a major economy, building its success on industrial upliftment, digital upliftment and self-reliance.
Speaking at the Amazon Smbhav event, Mittal asserted that Airtel had demonstrated that it is a company which will thrive even in crisis. Airtel has emerged stronger from three-four big crises and has arrived in a very healthy shape, he said.
“…and of course last, the recent one 2016 the launch of Jio, as one of the most powerful competitors in Indian space, free service for a year, subsidised service for another year, predatory pricing, subsidised phones, all sorts of things, and there is no surprise that 9 of the 12 operators packed up, went bankrupt, merged with us or with each other,” Mittal said.
Without taking names, he went on to add: “And today we are down to three private sector operators, in which very clearly one operator is becoming increasingly a question mark. So for a country of our size… 1.3 billion people, we are nearly down to 2.5 operators…and the last test we have passed again very well.”
Airtel rode the storm and increased its market share, improved brand loyalty, brand index and is onboarding more customers than competition in the last 8-9 months.
“We have added new lines of businesses, we have accelerated our Fibre to Home, many many hundreds of thousands of new homes are being connected every month. Data centres business has come through.
“Our enterprise business is now clearly the leading edge business in marketplace. The DTH business has taken a lead over Dish which used to be largest DTH operator in market place,” Mittal said.
Airtel Payments Bank, the group’s “newest baby”, is making inroads in rural areas and tier 2-3 cities, he said.
India presents a great opportunity for businesses, given its vast base of consumers using more and more products, services and data, and its young population is adding momentum to the GDP and consumption story, he noted.
India is attracting massive FDI and “is the place to be”, Mittal observed.
“Based on that data and smartphones in their hands, using services like Amazon, Google, Facebook and several other tech based services coming through, whether shared economy services like Uber, Ola, or seeking delivery from restaurants…everything is fast moving to digital platform…
“…these young people who are coming in hordes in mainstream are adding momentum to our GDP and consumption story,” he said.
India is also benefiting from “some tailwinds because China is suddenly is not the flavour of the decade”, Mittal noted.
“Most people are shifting their business from China to India which would mean more manufacturing coming here, more development coming here, more innovation coming here and in next 5-10 years it is my belief that India will be a major economy, where we will have had industrial upliftment, digital upliftment and importantly more of self-reliant and stronger India in the hands of Indians,” Mittal said.