Vodafone CEO sees new India, IPO on anvil

NEW DELHI (TIP): Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao on Wednesday said he is seeing the emergence of a “new India”, with several changes at the macro level.

He also announced that the Indian arm of the world’s second largest mobile operator —which has been involved in a series of tax disputes in the country — has begun preparatory work for an initial public offer that has been in the pipeline for several years. Colao said the timing of IPO would depend on several factors, including the market conditions.

“Do you see a new India? Yes, we see a new India. I also hear people say it’s not fast enough. I say fine but it’s also a big country. I face same problem in other countries. I have site problem in the UK… we are seeing a new India. Is it visible in every aspect of our business? No, it’s not but it’s starting to be visible in enough places. If the pace continues, digitization of the country will happen,” Colao told reporters.

He cited several steps, including the decision to allow spectrum trading and sharing and a “different posture on what was aggressive tax environment” in the past, to argue that “things are changing”. Vodafone India MD & CEO Sunil Sood also pointed out that the government has been trying to reduce call drops by allaying radiation fears from telecom towers and facilitating the installation of new ones. “We never had that kind of cooperation ever before.

That’s a big change in attitude.” Going forward, he said, Vodafone and other operators would also rely on spectrum sharing and trading to offer efficient services. Asked about Vodafone’s stand on net neutrality, Colao said there should be no discrimination in rules among same kind of services but telecom operators should be allowed to segment internet services.

“Net neutrality should be about non-discrimination. I should not discriminate among same type of services… but segmentation should be allowed.”

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