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Vodafone Ideab govt’s option to convert interest dues into equity

Debt-ridden telecom operator Vodafone Idea is evaluating the option of converting interest dues arising out of the deferment of statutory payments into equity, a senior company official said on Monday.

The company is also in talks with banks and investors for raising funds and part of the proceeds is likely to be utilised towards meeting obligations related to debt maturing this fiscal, Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) Chief Financial Officer Akshay Moondra said during the company’s earning call.

The government has given the option to defer all their dues payment for spectrum and Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) by four years to provide debt-ridden telecom companies an opportunity to improve their cash flows and invest in business.

“For the AGR dues, we are in discussion with the DoT (Department of Telecom) to determine the final amount in line with the Supreme Court judgement. Further, there is an option to convert such deferment into equity. We are evaluating this and we will be reverting on our decision on upfront conversion of interest into equity by the deadline of January 12, 2022,” Moondra said.

According to him, the company is also in discussions with banks and investors for raising both debt and equity.

“These discussions also include some kind of arrangement of funding to be able to meet immediate maturities of debt which are coming up in the remaining quarter of FY’22.”

Last week, VIL reported narrowing of consolidated loss to Rs 7,144.6 crore for the September quarter on account of an increase in mobile services tariff and cost optimisation.

The company had posted a loss of Rs 7,218.2 crore in the corresponding period of the previous financial year.

In the latest September quarter, its consolidated revenue declined about 13 per cent to Rs 9,406.4 crore.

The same was at Rs 10,791.2 crore in the year-ago period. In the latest September quarter, its consolidated revenue declined about 13 per cent to Rs 9,406.4 crore.

The amount comprises deferred spectrum payment obligations of Rs 1,08,610 crore, AGR liability of Rs 63,400 crore that are due to the government and debt from banks and financial institutions of Rs 22,770 crore.

VIL MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar said the company has started working on raising mobile tariffs and it is expected to be in place very soon.

“Some activity on tariff hikes has started to happen. Tariff hikes which are the next important step will also take (place) soon. For us, particularly as a company, we will not shy away from raising tariffs,” Takkar said.

During the September quarter, VIL increased the entry level prepaid pricing plan from Rs 49 to Rs 79 in a phased manner as well as hiked the tariffs for some postpaid plans. PTI

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