Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, Speech at Vodafone Idea’s FPO listing at NSE on 25th April 2024

Good morning, everyone! It is truly wonderful to be here at the NSE for the listing of Vodafone Idea’s equity shares after a remarkably successful FPO. It was 17 years ago that Idea Cellular was listed on the bourses. The India Telecom story since then has been punctuated by many events and milestones.

And I believe that the successful conclusion of India’s largest FPO of Rs 18,000 crores marks one such turning point for the telecom industry. The fact that so many marquee investors participated in this equity issuance is a testament to the government’s vision of a digital India. The emphatic oversubscription of the FPO – with the overall book being subscribed 7 times and the institutional book being subscribed 19 times — demonstrates the tremendous potential of the India digital story and Vodafone Idea’s role in it. The robust engagement from both foreign and domestic investors is heartening. Notably, the full subscription of the retail portion is truly commendable , given the sheer scale of the offer.

Vodafone Idea’s journey to this point has been shaped significantly by the government’s path-breaking reform package, which was nothing short of transformational for the entire sector. I thank the honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, the Honourable Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and the Honourable Telecom Minister Shri Ashwin Vaishnaw for their leadership and unequivocal commitment to preserving a competitive 3-player market. The policy environment today encourages investment, innovation, and competition.

India’s digital economy is booming, and robust telecom networks are crucial to support this growth. A nation of 1.4 billion people deserves 3 private telecom players.

Vodafone Idea, today, is not just a telecom company. It is a national asset — with 215 million users, about 8000 MHz spectrum and a network that spans Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

The Aditya Birla Group, as you all know, has remained committed to this sector for over two and a half decades now. Along with our partner, Vodafone Group, we have cumulatively invested around Rs.170,000 Cr in the Indian Telecom industry. Before this FPO, in the last 5 years, out of Rs.30,000 Cr raised by the company, more than 75% has come from the two promoter groups. The latest fund raise has also seen an investment of over Rs. 2,000 Cr from the Aditya Birla Group. This continued commitment stems from our belief in the promise of the India digital story.

The proceeds from this fund raise are earmarked for a significant capital expenditure cycle. This growth capex will pave the way for a network and technological upgrade across key markets. And this in turn will enhance operational efficiencies and lead to better performance. The cycle of investment will trigger the cycle of growth. On the back of this fund raise and continued support from banks, Vodafone Idea will stage a smart turnaround. This moment in some ways, marks the beginning of Vodafone Idea 2.0. I believe that a revitalized Vodafone Idea is important for India.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the relentless spirit of team Vodafone Idea. From network technicians and marketing executives to customer service agents— the “Vi” (pronounced WE) team has demonstrated extraordinary commitment, resilience, and tenacity. Amidst storms of uncertainty, they have remained undeterred, day in and day out. It won’t be an exaggeration to say —What a team, Sirjee!

I also want to thank the 215 million users who have backed the company through thick and thin. Their support is the foundation on which Vodafone Idea will grow.

A heartfelt thank you also to our banking partners, Axis, Jefferies, and SBI Caps for this blockbuster FPO.

Once again, I am grateful to everyone who has believed in, invested in, and committed to the vision of Digital India. A vision that will continue to drive Vodafone Idea forward. Today, as we stand on the cusp of a digital revolution, a rejuvenated Vi together with other telecom players, will meaningfully contribute to the exciting and sustainable growth journey ahead.

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