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DoT will not disclose details on Vi debt conversion into equity

The Department of Telecommunications has refused to disclose the detailed order under which it converted Vodafone Idea’s ₹16,000 crore debt into equity. businessline has seen the DoT’s response to an application that was filed by an industry source requesting a copy of the order passed by the Ministry of Communications on February 3, 2023, under section 62(4) of the Companies Act, 2013, directing the Company to convert the NPV of the interest related to deferment of spectrum auction instalments and AGR Dues into equity shares to be issued to the Government of India. The DoT has refused to disclose the copy of the order, citing that this information comes under Exemptions from Disclosure Section 8(1) of RTI ACT.

The Government’s equity conversion has purportedly restored vigour in the ailing telco’s fundraising activities– especially as it was unable to secure any additional funding from external investors or even promoters — while its dues to network vendors and lenders were pending. Vi has also not started rolling out its 5G network as it has no funds for capex. Senior officials at the DoT, such as DoT Secretary, K Rajaraman, have hinted that they expect Vi to start rolling out a 5G network soon, especially as the rollout obligations on the 5G spectrum purchased by Vi last year must be met soon. Vodafone Idea leadership has also sought some extension and leniency on the timeline by which the telco is expected to set up its 5G network.

While the Centre refuses to provide a copy of the order, the order could contain the exact conditions that Vi is expected to fulfil, now that it has received the Centre’s assistance. The order will also detail the Centre’s exact obligations to the company as well. However, the DoT has refused to disclose the order, being evasive and non transparent. The Hindu BusinessLine

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