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Government losing patience with delays in fund infusion by Vi promoters

Nearly six months after picking up a 33% equity in Vodafone Idea in lieu of interest payouts, the government seems to be losing patience with delays in fund infusion by the promoters. It has put the company on watch as the telco reels under financial stress, which is affecting 5G launch plans.

The company, though, remains hopeful and is understood to be stitching up a plan to infuse funds “as early as possible”, according to insiders. Top sources said both DoT and the finance ministry are watching the developments at Vodafone Idea “with concern” over inability of promoters to bring in funding “despite repeated assurances” given by them.

“It’s nearly six months since we took the decision to pick up equity in the company, but there has been no movement (in the fund raise) so far. We have been assured, and re-assured, multiple times by the company’s management over the funding matter, but still there has been no movement. This is disturbing and frustrating,” one of the sources said. A detailed questionnaire sent to Vodafone Idea on the issue remained unanswered at the time of going to the press. Along with DoT, the finance ministry, which had given the final approval to a mega telecom relief package, is unhappy with the progress so far.

“We were initially coaxed by the management to expedite our entry into the company, following a decision of the Cabinet, and the promoters assured us that it will help them raise funds. However, no such movement has happened so far,” a government source said. The government is also worried about Vodafone Idea’s prospects as the company continues to reel under heavy losses and debt, while losing high-paying customers to bigger rivals Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. ToI

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