Bharti wants to be India's finest conglomerate
Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman & CEO of Bharti Airtel, said that the group was breaking free of its telecom legacy.Making a rare appearance at a press meet, Mittal, flanked by brothers Rakesh and Rajan and deputy group CEO & MD, Akhil Gupta, unveiled a new strategic vision and brand identity along with a fresh brand logo aimed at turning Bharti into India’s finest conglomerate by 2020 in its next phase of growth.“Transformation excites us. Deep transformation backed by brave actions have led to our iconic success in India to become the third largest company by market cap after RIL and ONGC,” he told reporters.While acknowledging the contribution of telecom to this success, Mittal said that going forward, there would be an attempt to bring the telecom business’s contribution to the group’s revenues from 85% to no more than 50% over the next five years. According to him, Bharti’s retail business would contribute the fastest Rs 1,000 crore in sales to the group’s business, followed by insurance and then food and agriculture. Asked about the impact of both the scarcity and prohibitive costs of spectrum on future profitability and growth, Mittal said high charges and levies needed the continuous attention of the government. “Tariffs are at an all-time low today while volumes are still high. Once volumes start declining, will tariffs go up?” he asked, hinting that the government should not lose its pragmatism over costs. Airtel, which was in a serious bid to acquire MTN earlier this year, said it was still open to acquiring foreign telecom assets but had no immediate targets. “We are ready. The company is low on debt and has strong cash flows, but there are no clear targets,” Mittal said.The company intends to bat big in the 3G spectrum auctions. “There are 12 operators in the country, who will be more than willing to participate for the four or five 3G slots that come up for auction,” he said, adding that consolidation in the sector is imminent as fierce competition combined with low tariffs make market penetration an uphill task.Bharti Airtel had 77.5 million mobile users at September-end. Having established a world-class telecom business in Bharti Airtel, the group aims to build transformational business in the areas of retail, financial services and agriculture, which it believes are the future growth engines of India’s economy.