British telecom giant Vodafone will invest an additional $3 billion in India over the next two years.
The move ranks India as one of the two most-important markets globally for the company along with Germany, for new investments and expansion.
The move is seen to be especially significant as it comes at a time when the company is locked in a Rs 13,000-crore tax dispute with the Indian government.
According to Vittorio Colao, global CEO of Vodafone, the company had no plans to restrict new investments in India despite the pending tax dispute. He added that he had received "positive signs" in his discussions with finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday on the issue. According to commentators, conciliatory talks are expected to get underway between Vodafone and the Indian government to resolve the matter.
Colao said the company was grateful that the FM gave it time and that there was a dialogue, as he wrapped up his India visit ahead of the spectrum auctions in January.
He added, India had emerged as one of the key focus markets for Vodafone globally, adding he believed in India and the opportunity it presented.
He said there was a natural opportunity for Vodafone in India, as there was growth, there was the vast population, there was a rural and an urban market and there was big potential in data. He said Vodafone was focused on being a long-term player in the country.
Colao said the investment excluded the amount the company would spend in the forthcoming auctions to buy spectrum and added that the proposed investment would be for network expansion, rural coverage and in enhancing data coverage.
Vodafone, which in the past had expressed its displeasure over the regulatory environment concerning the telecom sector, now saw a measure of clarity and certainty to the regulatory environment of the sector.
Colao told a group of journalists, "There's been progress in the regulatory environment. The recent decisions of the empowered group of ministers on merger and acquisitions are in the right direction and there's a positive message to push forward the industry.'' He, however, declined to go into details.
Elaborating on the planned investment for the Indian market, Colao said that it was the biggest by the company, adding that India and Germany were the focus investment destinations for the company as there was immense scope for data growth in India and Germany.