With the final hearing of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issue at the Supreme Court slated for March 17, Vodafone Group Chief Executive Officer Nick Read has sought a meeting with Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad this week.
Multiple sources told BusinessLine that Read will be visiting India on March 6 (Friday) and has requested for the meeting along with Ravinder Takkar, Managing Director and CEO, Vodafone Idea (VIL), with Prasad anytime during the day.
“We would be grateful for a meeting as per your convenience on March 6, 2020,” says a letter written by P Balaji, Chief Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Officer, VIL, seen by BusinessLine.
A government official has confirmed about the meeting request, but also said that the Minister has not given a time yet.
A global spokesperson at Vodafone Group — when contacted — did not respond.
VIL has the maximum AGR dues of Rs. 53,000 crore, of which it has paid Rs. 3,500 crore last month.
The company has been pleading with the government for a significant hike of mobile data tariff and call charges at six-paise per minute to be able to improve its balance sheet and pay its AGR dues.
Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of VIL, has in the recent past said that without government relief his company may be forced to shut shop. Last month, Birla also met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash to these issues.
The meeting of Nick Read with Prasad is being seen as a last ditch effort from the Vodafone top brass to save its business in India. Vodafone had earlier too said that it was committed to partner the Indian government’s ‘Digital India’ programme and invested a lot towards such projects.
In November, Read had said that “Vodafone wants to stay in India for a long time” and he was confident of India’s prospects in the telecom sector and that India was an important market for the Group.
―The Hindu Business Line