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Vodafone Idea seeks a fresh start by rebranding as Vi

Sometimes the best way to deal with seemingly insurmountable odds is to buy a new outfit and just front up.

Indian operator group Vodafone Idea, the product of a 2018 merger, has been on the ropes since its inception. Initially the reason was fiercely aggressive competition from new market entrant Reliance Jio, but then it lost a protracted legal case to reduce the huge amounts of money demanded from it by the Indian government. As a result it has frequently speculated that the whole company may go out of business.

Last week Vodafone Idea appeared to be considering every possible means of raising a few rupees, short of selling the family silver, but having had a weekend to mull it over it has decided a rebrand might be the answer. Perhaps indicating it was a spur of the moment decision, the rebrand consists of condensing the name to just its initials, to make ‘Vi’. For some reason the ‘i’ is upside down and we’re not sure what that is supposed to symbolise as there’s no sign of a press release on the matter. At least there’s a new website.

To further emphasise how over the whole thing Vi it, its spokespeople finally offered public comment on the Supreme Court decision to insist they pay up in full, but giving them a decade to do so. Financial Express quotes VI MD Ravinder Takkar indicating the final ruling was a good outcome from a cashflow perspective. It was, of course, a bad outcome from a ‘still having to pay up’ perspective, but fair play to Takkar for trying to make the best of a tough situation.

There is also talk of raising prices to pay for all this license fee fun. While that seems inevitable, such a move will present Jio with an opportunity hammer another nail into the Vi coffin, but reducing its own. If Vi does raise prices it will need to be clever about how it communicates with its customers, as merely playing the sympathy card over government extortion is unlikely to do much to sugar the pill.


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