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Vodafone using 'partners' to help it penetrate global markets

Just friends with benefits...

Vodafone is increasingly adopting local partners, rather than buying up local operators, to push its brand and services into new markets around the world.

The company isn't new to partnerships; today marks 10 years since the company's creation of a special division for such agreements, and an increasing focus on partnerships as a way into new markets. the types of partnership Voda enters into vary quite a bit: some take the Vodafone brand and become indistinguishable from the parent, while other partners simply share roaming agreements and expert services with the telco giant. But overall, the partnership strategy allows Vodafone to expand internationally with minimal risk.

Vodafone has been reining back some of its international operations lately, though it is still pouring money into India – despite that market only yielding an APRU (Average Revenue Per User) of around $2 a month.

Partner Markets are also being used to push into Asia and South America, with new deals being announced in French Polynesia and plenty more promised in the area for 2012, but Vodafone has also completed its deal with SFR in France, just to demonstrate that the idea works everywhere.

Vodafone used to own 44 per cent of SFR, but sold it to Vivendi (which already owned the other 56 per cent) back in April last year. At the time the companies announced there would be an ongoing relationship, which is now sealed with the pair joining forces to deliver enterprise solutions.

In many markets it is those enterprise solutions that Vodafone is interested in, rather than in the sale of consumer connections. Today's enterprises expect their telecommunications provider to have a global presence, and partnerships are an easy way of achieving that.

When Vodafone sold SFR, Vittorio Colao, Voda's CEO, talked about focusing on businesses where Vodafone had complete control, rather than a partial stake (as with SRF). But it is clear that in some markets Vodafone would be happier working with companies in which it has no stake at all. ®

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