Vodafone pleads for govt relief after posting worst quarterly loss in India

Airtel Vodafone Idea MTNL stocks fall as DoT pressure to pay up AGR dues mounts

As per an internal estimate prepared by the DoT total dues on the telecom service providers arising out of SC order are around Rs 1.33 lakh crore

Facing a $4 billion demand from India to cover past dues, Vodafone Idea Ltd. took a one-time charge that led to a net loss of 509 billion rupees ($7.1 billion) in the three months through September.

Bharti Airtel said that while the net loss after exceptional item was at Rs 23,045 crore, before exceptional item the net loss stood at Rs 1,123 crore. "We have accounted for the estimated liability of Rs 27,610 crore related to licence fee and Rs 16,540 crore billion related to spectrum usage charges up to September 30, 2019, including the penalty and interest thereon of Rs 33,010 crore", the regulatory filing said.

Analysts tracking the telecom sector said that if the government insists on collecting the dues without giving any relief, then a number of companies will have no option but to shut their operations.

The company's consolidated revenue from operations for the quarter rose 41.4% year-on-year to 108.44 billion rupees. This was almost double the previous record held by Tata Motors (269 billion rupees, or $3.74 billion) in the December quarter of2018.

The court had upheld the government's position to include revenue from non-telecommunication businesses while calculating the annual adjusted gross revenue of telecom companies. The company, which has slipped into the red after the aggressive entry of Reliance Jio in September 2016, was jolted further when the Supreme Court ordered telecom companies (on October 24) to pay back almost Rs 93,000 crore in past dues.

Airtel and Vodafone Idea, the worst-hit companies, have to self-assess the dues for the last 14 years and submit the amount by January 24, 2020. India revenues for Q2'20 at Rs 15,361 crore have increased by 5.7 per cent YoY (reported increase of 3.0 per cent) on an underlying basis. "We are hopeful that the government will take a considerate view in this matter given the fragile state of the industry". The company stated that its ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on obtaining relief from the government and it was in touch with the officials concerned.

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The consolidated revenue of Bharti Airtel was up by 4.7 per cent at Rs 21,199 crore in the just-ended quarter.

Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom operators have to pay the government a whopping Rs 1.4 lakh crore following the recent Supreme Court order that has sent shock waves through the industry which is already grappling with losses and billions of dollars in debt. "We believe this will provide us financial flexibility", Vodafone Idea MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar said.

As per latest estimates by the telecom department, Bharti Airtel faces a liability of around Rs 62,187 crore, while Vodafone Idea may have to pay about Rs 54,184 crore, PTI reported.

The two results highlight the pain felt by Indian telecom operators as they battle high levels of debt, a bruising price war unleashed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm and the recent adverse court verdict.

Mobile data traffic for Airtel almost doubled to 4,497 petabytes (PBs) in the quarter, as compared to 2,478 PBs in the corresponding quarter past year.

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