Indian telcos request open hearing as they attempt to overturn $13bn AGR ruling

Published: 8 January 2020 - 8:38 a.m.
By: CommsMEA staff writer

India’s leading mobile network operators have requested an open court hearing of their review petition, submitted against the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in a landmark case that redefined the way that telcos calculate their Adjusted Gross Revenues (AGR).

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, senior representatives have requested an open hearing for the appeal from Justice Arun Mishra.

India’s Supreme Court recently ruled that telcos must recalculate their Adjusted Gross Revenues – a metric used to calculate spectrum usage charges, payable to the Department of Telecoms. The ruling saddled India’s telcos with more than $13 billion (92,000 crore rupees) of new debt, which India’s Department of Telecoms is demanding to be paid in just three months’ time. Both Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel had previously stated that they hoped that they would be allowed an extended period of up to 10 years to pay off the dues – a request that the Department of Telecoms has flatly ignored.

The ruling came at a time when India’s cash strapped operators could least afford it. India remains a highly competitive market for operators, with Average Revenue Per User hovering at just above $1.50 for all of the country’s big three telcos.

As a result of the ruling Bharti Airtel has sort to raise an additional $3 billion in debt and equity finance, whilst speculation continues to mount over the financial viability of India’s second largest telco, Vodafone-Idea.

Reports in the press had previously suggested that Vodafone Idea was looking to sell off its fibre network infrastructure for a reported $2.5 billion as a way of raising some quick cash to pay off its AGR dues.

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