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Relief call in telecom

The competitiveness of Vodafone Idea could take a hit because of the financial burden

By TT Bureau in New Delhi and Mumbai

  • Published 18.01.20, 12:12 AM
  • Updated 18.01.20, 12:12 AM
Analysts said the relief from the government could come in tranches
Analysts said the relief from the government could come in tranches (Shutterstock)

The government may provide some relief to telecom operators Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel after the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed their review plea on adjusted gross revenue, analysts said.

However, the competitiveness of Vodafone Idea could take a hit because of the financial burden even as other players Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio eat into its subscribers.

“The financial burden will likely further weaken Vodafone Idea’s ability to compete in the Indian market, potentially providing an opportunity for competitors Bharti and Jio to gain market share,” Annalisa Di Chiara, senior vice-president, corporate finance, Moody’s Investors Service, said in a statement.

Analysts said the relief from the government could come in tranches.

“We believe the final outcome may not be linear and there could be a payment extension or moratorium to say the least. Irrespective of the outcome, Bharti is well prepared and, along with Jio, appears poised for strong market share gains,” Motilal Oswal said in a research report.

“It won’t be surprising if the government comes to the rescue of the telecom sector. This is particularly because it has to recover Rs 90,000 crore as deferred spectrum debt from Vodafone Idea, which has stated it will shut operations if asked to pay the entire AGR liability. Also, Vodafone Idea owes Rs 30,000 crore to banks,” Motilal Oswal said.

“Against this, Aditya Birla Group and Vodafone Plc’s stake in Vodafone Idea stands at Rs 7,000 crore and Rs 8,000 crore, respectively. Moreover, the implications for the end-customer could be terrible,” the report added.

The Supreme Court dismissed the review petitions by Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel seeking a relief on the dues to the department of telecommunications on account of a 15-year-old AGR interpretation dispute.

The shares of Bharti Airtel rose on the stock exchanges on Friday on expectations that it would gain immensely if there were two players in the industry. The scrip hit a 52-week high of Rs 503.69 during intra-day trades and later settled with gains of 5.47 per cent at Rs 500.

The Vodafone Idea scrip, however, tanked 25 per cent to Rs 4.51 on the BSE.

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