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We are soon going to be the come-back kid [Financial Express (India)]
[February 22, 2013]

We are soon going to be the come-back kid [Financial Express (India)]

(Financial Express (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Four months after taking over the reins of the Finnish handset maker, Nokia, in the country, P Balaji shared with Anandita Singh Mankotia the company's future strategy, how it plans to regain its lost ground in the world's fastest growing telecom market and tax issues that have recently surfaced. Edited excerpts: Very early in your stint with the company you seem to be battling on the tax demands by the income tax authorities. What's the current status of the matter and how do you view it The company's stand on this is already very clear and we have given out a strongly worded letter. However, to highlight our stance, let me explain the sequence of events. The tax authorities have only sought information from us, in terms of documents and have been interrogating us, however we are yet to receive any communication from them on the matter. There has been no intimation from the tax authorities on this matter and we ourselves haven't been informed of any figure. At this stage all I can say is that information is only being sought from us. The rest one keeps reading from the newspapers.

With Nokia trying to regain its lost ground, how successful has the come back been As a company in 2011 we made a decision to transition to the Windows platform and during the transition time, to invest in hardware, invest in relationships with our associates. So far and going forward our strategy is going to be to invest in differentiating factors; music and entertainment, location services and images. Within 16 months have launched eight phones across various price bands and globally we have sold a record 16 million Lumia handsets. As far as our Asha range is concerned , it has been the number one smartphone for the past two quarters. We now feel that from the consumer's point of view our portfolio is complete. While I can't give out specific figures but nevertheless I can say confidently that we have arrested the erosion and we are soon going to be the come-back kid.

Going forward what will be the company's strategy At a personal level what goals have you set for yourself Our strategy is going to be very simple and clear. We want to keep our phones simple. That will be the biggest differentiating factor. Yes, India is a price sensitive market however one needs to understand that price is no longer the single differentiating factor. We have also learnt that you need humility no matter where you are and who you are, very humbly we accepted our shortcomings and hope to soon become the trendsetters in our offerings. The idea is to connect to the youth and through our offerings, trendsetting yet affordable devices which fulfill peoples aspirations. For instance, at a less than R4,000 one can now own a Nokia full touch smartphone (R4,000). We would like to be the most respected brand and build a harmonious ecosystem with our associates. The music industry and everyone we partner with. So that everyone, the consumer, our associates as well as our own financials improve. Secondly, as far as my goals go, I have kept it fairly simple, the sales should increase further and financials should improve, basically we should make more money. That's it.

Any changes you would like to see in the regulatory environment Well the tax structure for one needs to be simplified further. I can name 15 states where the VAT structure is very discouraging. The structure needs to improve and become more investment friendly, it will spurt another telecom revolution. Take the case of 2004-05 when the government majorly altered the tax regime, mobile sales spurt propelling the telecom revolution.

Copyright 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by Credit: Anandita Singh Mankotia (c) 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by

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