Vodafone Idea Ltd. plans to raise as much as 25,000-crore rupees ($3.5 billion) via a rights offering to help India’s largest mobile-phone carrier fend off Asia’s richest man, who continues to roil the industry by providing 4G Internet at prices that would drive most carriers bankrupt in other countries.
The plan underscores how Indian carriers have yet to figure out how to compete against billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which offers packages with enough data to watch 46 hours of YouTube videos for about $2 a month. Vodafone Idea itself was formed last year after a couple of the industry’s biggest players merged to create an operator big enough to withstand Jio’s low prices.
Jio stormed into the world’s second-largest phone market in 2016 by offering free wireless services for months. Today, the company has already signed up 28 crore subscribers and turned profitable -- even bringing connectivity to remote Indian villages.