Vodafone top brass meet Telecom Secretary; seek freeze on spectrum dues

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 30, 2019 Published on September 30, 2019

Vodafone Group Chairman, Gerard Kleisterlee; and Chief Executive Officer, Nick Read, on Monday met Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash and sought a two-year moratorium on deferred spectrum payments, and other relief measures as the industry goes through a bad patch.

Kleisterlee said that the British telecom giant that has invested in Indian telecom services market through Vodafone Idea, had ‘good discussions as always’ with the government.

Asked about the speculation in the market that the company may not remain a long term investor in India given the sectoral stress, Read said, “We are focussed on the successful integration of our business between Vodafone and Idea (in India).” However, he refused to respond to questions relating to issues in the sector and if the company was happy with the Indian regulators. Both officials also met Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

Vodafone-Idea has been seeking a two-year moratorium on its annual spectrum payment citing debt and stress on balance sheet. Both the companies participated in five spectrum auctions over the years before merging their businesses in August last year. In the auctions, Vodafone acquired spectrum worth ₹ 79,343 crore — the highest in terms of value compared to bids made by other operators — and Idea had purchased spectrum worth ₹ 63,597 crore.

According to sources, the company asked for two-year moratorium on payment of spectrum bought in the past auctions, as well as the long-standing issue of GST input tax credit locked up with the government.

Published on September 30, 2019
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