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Need to make investments to improve cash flows, clear vendor dues

Debt-ridden telecom operator Vodafone Idea needs funding to make investments and vendor dues will be cleared once it starts generating cash from the investments, a top official of the company said on Wednesday. Vodafone Idea (VIL) CEO Akshaya Moondra during the company’s earning call said that the experience on 5G is not much different for consumers at present unless the network is made ubiquitous.

“It is very clear that we need to get funding to make investments and improve our operating cash flows to be then able to improve our vendor payment situation. Currently, we are prioritizing all payments which are essential for the continuation of operations,” Moondra said.

He said that all vendors have been very supportive during the difficult period that the company has been going through. “As we get the funding and start making investments, as we see cash generation from operations is going up, that will be the basis of our starting to clear the backlog,” Moondra said.

He said that the company is in the advanced stages of discussion with various network vendors for the finalisation of our 5G rollout strategy. “5G is an important development. 5G is a part of our plan. It is clear that we will be starting a little late compared to the competition. I believe 5G is evolving. While 5G offers much better speed, really speaking from a consumer perspective when you measure it on Speedtest, it is visible. If you try to see your experience, it is not very different. It will also require some ubiquitous coverage of 5G,” Moondra said.

He said that as soon as the funding is in place, the company will expedite the rollout of 5G. Moondra said that the company is engaged with banks for funding which could not progress earlier as the main requirement of banks was the conversion of the government’s interest dues into equity.

He said that the tariff hike is required in the industry as the present level of realisation is not enough to cover the cost of capital invested in the industry. Debt-ridden telecom operator Vodafone Idea has reported a widening of its consolidated loss to Rs 7,990 crore for the third quarter that ended December 31, 2022.

The company had registered a loss of Rs 7,234.1 crore in the same period a year ago. The consolidated revenue from operations of Vodafone Idea (VIL), however, increased by 9.29 per cent to Rs 10,620.6 crore from Rs 9,717.3 crore in the December 2021 quarter.

The total gross debt (excluding lease liabilities and including interest accrued but not due) as of December 31, 2022, stood at Rs 2.22 lakh crore, comprising deferred spectrum payment obligations of Rs 1.39 lakh crore and adjusted gross revenue liability of Rs 69,910 crore that are due to the government. The debt from banks and financial institutions stood at Rs 13,190 crore. PTI

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