Soon, IOC pumps will refuel your Airtel phone too

Bharti Airtel has forged an exclusive alliance withIOC- that will enable the telco to access 18,000 retail outlets and 5,500 Indane cooking gas distributors. Hot Handsets

NEW DELHI: India���s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel has forged an exclusive alliance with the country���s flagship oil company ��� Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) ��� that will enable the telco to access 18,000 retail outlets and 5,500 Indane cooking gas distributors of the oil giant.

The deal also envisages that Airtel can use IOC outlets to sell its products, collect bills, set up PCO facilities and even open Bharti retail outlets on an exclusive basis. Besides, Airtel can also use IOC retail outlets for its branding exercise.

Confirming the development, Bharti Airtel president for mobile services Sanjay Kapoor told ET: ���IOC has over 18,000 outlets along with 5,500 Indane distributors. The company provides services to 48-million plus households. We see a lot of synergies into entering into an exclusive deal with Indian Oil.���

This is the second major marketing and distribution announcement by Bharti Airtel during this month. Earlier this month, Bharti entered into a strategic partnership with state-run Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (Iffco) to offer telephony services to farmers in the country���s hinterland.

This alliance is aimed at providing products and services, specifically designed for farmers, through Iffco societies in villages. ���Along with Iffco, the tie-up with IOC will complement our rural strategy,��� Mr Kapoor said. Bharti���s deal with IOC will also enable the telco to sell its products and services across thousands of Kisan Seva Kendras that IOC runs in the country, especially in rural India.

Importantly, Bharti is betting on tie-up in metros and large cities for its customers to have a 24-hour access to its products and services. ���Many IOC outlets are open 24 hours. We see these as centres where our customers can reach us round the clock,��� Mr Kapoor said. He, however, refused to divulge the commercial details between Bharti and IOC. He also said that the agreement will enable IOC distributors, especially those handling Indane, to increase their revenues by offering Bharti���s services from the same premises.

It is also learnt that Bharti and IOC had done a pilot spread across the four metros, the national capital region and Maharashtra before entering into a deal for an exclusive partnership on a nation-wide basis.

In the next stage, Bharti and IOC will also look at other business opportunities so that telecom subscribers of the telco can get better deals while buying IOC products. Bharti executives, however, say that while the scope of the agreement permits both companies to explore additional business opportunities, both companies are yet to work out new avenues.



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