The Telenor India Strategy


Telenor not only succeeded in creating a successful India franchise in Uninor which was adding more than 2.5 mln users a  month at its pick with only 13 circles udner its belt, it did it ina minimalist way relying on auto run USDN plan packages and prepaid activations to grow its business as the fifth operator in most circles. Even now it adds more than a million users a month, a gretats trategy case for foreign banks thinking of not entering india for the fear of priority sector lending, no frills accounts, rural branches and the other ‘social’ expanse of india’s rightist and liberal policies.

Uninor makes it look easy for MTS, Sistema and others though many may not come back after the current round and Maxis seemed to knowww on its own hich ay to go though it never really challenged Idea, let alone the no. 2 operator in its circles.

Telenor also figured out a long forgotten clause in the MFN treaty and the government has since even extended a blanket welcome to those with SWF stakes ( in Telenor’s case, from Norway) to buy the spectrum again in the 2nd round of auction  at the minimum prices for the Auction

In the third instance, Telenor just trumped its erstwhile partner Unitech, which seemingly was not good enough to go on with as JV partner, with the HC overturning the stay by CLB on the sale of uninor assets to the new Telenor subsidiary allowing continuing seamless operations for Uninor customers as the new auction of spectrum gets repeatedly postponed.

All three elegant solutions show that Global corporations do not have to get stuck with F1 sponsor/ ultra premium slots and can target mass markets in India wihtout running extreme overheads and likely able to pay through other means.  Many fail in corporate governance while setting up lean india governance structures and many others allow corporate overheads, staffing and marketing expenses to overshadoww investments in infrastructure. A few have been perenially in losses despite their tremendous goodwill and larger partner networks like HP and many others failed in entering india without an outsourcing end or piggybacking on Integration /Technology /outsourcing consultants like Accenture as in the recent case of Apple reflecting their addiction to democracies and banana republics which can operate corporations directly from their parliaments and presidential palaces as suitable investment destinations. China of course is a different kettle of fish and also provides a larger proven market and thus India has to put its best foot forward while soliciting from new global investors, but it is unlikely that such investors are looking for jugaad or kya chahiye anymore and cannot manage with suitable business credentials and staffing of their own in the ‘potentially large’ Indian market.

There are also others who may no longer count their India operations as sunk investments ithout a future but many such still have to prove their real existence ineven their target markets to run with indian consumers, such as the Diageo, Fosters, AB and Pernod Ricard in the spirits category who look anemic brands while their global winning brands are more than a commercial success in the Indian market from Bud to Heineken and Royal Stag, Blenders’ Pride and many more who have recently enjoined india only premium brands after a long gap.


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