ICRA Puts Bharti Airtel Under Watch

Rating agency ICRA on Monday placed the ratings of Bharti Airtel under watch with negative implications following the judgment by Supreme Court pertaining to dispute regarding the calculation of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). Data from Bloomberg showed that the total debt of Bharti Airtel stood at Rs 1.25 lakh crore as on March 2019.

The SC had come out with its judgement on October 24, 2019, on the definition for calculation of AGR and has mandated the telecom operators to pay the licence fee on the basis of the revised AGR, along with interest and penalties on the same. “As per the judgment which was passed on October 24, 2019, the telcom service providers (telcos) are required to include other sources of revenues as part of the AGR (as stipulated in the New Telecom Policy 1999). The inclusion of these non-core revenues in AGR which the operators were not including while depositing the revenue share may result in an increase in the total levies payable, which along with the interest and penalties on the past dues may result in sizeable payables for the telcos,” said Icra in its report.

The ratings agency also said the clarity on exact amount payable and the payment terms were still awaited. Nevertheless, any material liability on the firm in this respect has the potential to impact the debt levels and could result in deterioration of debt protection metrics. Share of Bharti Airtel closed at Rs 371.55, down by Rs 12.70 or 3.31% on BSE.

“Pursuant to the SC ruling and subsequent requests by telecom operators for relief measures, the government of India has appointed a Committee of Secretaries to analyse the current situation, the outcome of which will be a key monitorable. ICRA will continue to monitor the developments with respect to the actual amounts and timing of payments to assess the impact on credit metrics of the company,” said ICRA in its report.―Financial Express

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