Airtel denies exit reports; says ‘remains committed to Africa’
3 February 2017
Bharti Airtel has refuted media reports it may cease its operations in all 15 countries across Africa by end of the year.
The telecoms giant says it “remains committed to Africa and will continue to invest in its operations to grow.”
Comments by Bharti Airtel Chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal, that the telecoms operator is working to rationalise its subsidiary operations in Africa sparked reports that Airtel is quitting the continent.
Mittal had said the company’s run in 15 African countries had not been as successful as they had hoped.
In its home country India, one of the world’s largest telecoms operators has already seen potential revenue threats thanks to pressure from “disruptors” in the Indian market.
In Ghana, speculation has already begun that Airtel Ghana and Tigo will merge to be acquired by French operator Orange.
“All the steps taken recently with regard to human resources and infrastructure have been geared towards readying the organisation to grow efficiently and sustainably in the medium to long term,” a statement from Bharti Airtel quotes the Managing Director and CEO of Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava.
Read the full statement below.
Media statement from Bharti Airtel
Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications company with operations in 15 countries across Africa, has refuted speculative media reports erroneously stating its possible exit from Africa. The organization has reaffirmed that it remains committed to Africa and will continue to invest in its operations to grow sustainably in Africa.
Airtel Africa’s recent 3rd quarter results were strong. The underlying Africa revenues for the quarter accelerated by 6.0 per cent Y-o-Y, the highest over the last 9 quarters. The organizations efforts to improve the quality of customer acquisitions have resulted in a reduction in customer churn to 4.9 per cent from 6.0 per cent. Data consumption and revenues have grown by 91.0 per cent & 24.0 per cent Y-o-Y respectively, led by stronger data networks. The strong focus on cost management has led to a significant underlying EBITDA margin expansion of 4.5 per cent Y-o-Y, which now stands at 24.5 per cent. Africa is now generating positive free cash and is PBT positive in constant currency.
Raghunath Mandava, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa, said’ “All the steps taken recently with regard to human resources and infrastructure have been geared towards readying the organization to grow efficiently and sustainably in the medium to long term. The company remains committed to competing in various markets and providing more choice to customers through further investments to ensure consistent delivery of quality and value for money services to our customers. We are also accelerating our investments in new data networks and to modernize our existing networks. We are committed to launch 4G in multiple countries.”
He added “Mergers and acquisitions continue to be the norm for any multinational organization and they affect all global organizations in equal measures as and when they happen. As a strategy, we look for opportunities to acquire or merge in opcos that are operating in a fragmented market structure with too many players in a small market. Last year, Airtel and Orange reached a mutually beneficial agreement on the assets in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. Similarly, Airtel also acquired assets in Uganda, CongoB and Kenya in recent times. The agreements brought together the strengths of Airtel, Warid and Essar. This has offered benefits to customers in the form of a superior and wider network, affordable voice / data services and better customer care. Away from Africa, recently, we merged with Robi in Bangladesh to create a solid and profitable No.2 player in the market.”
The recent results demonstrate the effectiveness of Airtel’s business strategy in Africa. The organization sees an opportunity ahead to emerge with a broader reach and sharper execution.