Mumbai: Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd wireless services will be sold in India, the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market, by Tata Teleservices Ltd.
Offering fun: Richard Branson’s Virgin Group will be selling six handset models in India.
The Virgin Mobile brand will target customers aged between 15 and 30 years in the South Asian nation, Branson said on Sunday at a news conference in the city. Branson’s Virgin Group Ltd plans to start selling six handset models, costing Rs2,000 to Rs5,000 each, in India.
Virgin Group joins Vodafone Group Plc.—the world’s largest mobile phone operator by sales, in seeking subscribers in India, where about one in five people owns a wireless phone. Vodafone operates the third largest wireless carrier in India, which added a record 8.77 million subscribers in January.
“The estimated population in India of people between 15 and 30 years is 400 million,” Branson told reporters. “So that is going to be a lot of fun.”
The agreement extends Branson’s wireless holdings beyond the UK, the US, Canada, France, South Africa and Australia, where his companies already have operations.
In October, Virgin Mobile USA Inc., co-owned by Virgin Group and Sprint Nextel Corp., raised $412.5 million (Rs1,624 crore then) in an initial public offering. Since then, the shares have dropped 66% as the Warren, New Jersey-based company added fewer customers than analysts’ forecast, disappointing investors.
In the US, Virgin Mobile targets younger consumers by offering games, music, news and ringtones in a partnership with Yahoo Inc. and Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks.
Tata Teleservices is part of the Tata group, which also controls the country’s largest maker of trucks and buses, Tata Motors Ltd, and the largest computer services provider, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.
Mumbai-based Tata Teleservices ended last month with 22.5 million wireless customers, or a market share of about 9.3%, making it the country’s fifth largest carrier.
Amy Thomson in New York also contributed to this story.