Vodafone to Invest $2 Billion to Expand in India

Vodafone Group Plc, the world’s largest mobile-phone operator by sales, plans to invest $2 billion in India this year to win more customers in the fastest- growing major wireless market.

The investments, in line with the amount spent in 2007, will be used to build telecommunications towers, set up shops and for advertising, Chief Executive Officer Arun Sarin told reporters today in New Delhi.

The Newbury, England-based company is investing in emerging markets to boost profits as subscriber growth slows at home. Vodafone took control of Hutchison Essar Ltd. in May to tap a market where 874 million of India’s 1.1 billion people don’t yet own a mobile phone.

“We’ll continue to invest to make sure that we provide a mobile phone to every Indian citizen and that’s our goal,” Sarin said.

Vodafone aims to sign up 100 million users in India by 2010 and may get approval to begin services in the state of Madhya Pradesh within weeks, Sarin said. The company ended 2007 with 40 million users, behind Reliance Communications Ltd. and market leader Bharti Airtel Ltd.

Vodafone spent $10.7 billion for a controlling interest in Hutchison Essar, at that time India’s fourth-largest operator.

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