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Not Approached Lenders For Debt Recast, Says Vodafone Idea

Vodafone Idea on Wednesday said it continues to pay all its debts as per schedule and has not approached any lender for debt recast.

“Vodafone Idea has not approached its lenders for debt recast. We have not made any request for debt recast to any lender or asked for reworking of payment terms. We continue to pay all our debts as and when these fall due”, Vodafone Idea spokesperson said on being asked if the Operator has asked any lender for moratorium. The group has about Rs 1.18 lakh crore of net debt, mounting losses and it has been losing subscribers as per TRAI data.

The problem mounted last week after the No.2 phone operator faced a Supreme Court order where it has to pay about $4 billion in past dues, dealing a fresh blow to the struggling business with heavy losses.

Vodafone Idea has been losing subscribers and reporting losses every quarter since the two companies announced their merger in 2017, after the entry of billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio with free calls and cheap data adding to the problem. But Jio has gone pay now.

The Supreme court ruling last week was part of a 14-year legal dispute over the way Indian telcos calculate revenue. The nation’s top court upheld the government’s method, and told 8 carriers of which only Airtel and Vodafone Idea are surviving, to pay about $13 billion in total. An upfront liability for Vodafone India debt payment could put its financials under extreme stress.

On the Supreme Court order, Vodafone has said that it could also look at filing a review application on the court’s order if there’s any scope. On a consolidated basis, Vodafone Idea reported a net loss of Rs 4,067.01 crore in Q1 June 2019 compared with a net loss of Rs 2,757.60 crore in Q1 June 2018. Net sales surged 92 per cent to Rs 11,264.70 crore in Q1 June 2019 over Q1 June 2018.

“Assuming no relief comes through, the outstanding liability of Rs 28,500 crore (and another potential large demand for past SUC underpayment) would make the already-stressed situation even tougher for Vodafone Idea. The company may need to resort to another large equity raise to fund these payouts. Bharti’s balance sheet is relatively better and while the payouts will increase the leverage ratios, we believe the situation is far more manageable for Bharti,” Kotak Institutional Equities said.―Times Now

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