Vodafone Idea clears its AGR debts… or does it?

Published: 16 March 2020 - 8:19 a.m.

Vodafone Idea has made payment of an additional $451.7 million (3,354 crore rupees) to clear the principal amount it owes to the Department of Telecoms over last year’s Adjusted Growth Revenue (AGR) ruling.

The payment brings the total amount paid by Vodafone Idea to $923 million (6,854 crore rupees), the total principal due for liabilities in the 2018/2019 financial year.

However, the Department of Telecoms was also claiming a significant sum in late payment and interest charges, which could also total hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars. Vodafone Idea’s own calculations show its total AGR related liabilities, including those charges, in the area of $2.9 billion (21,533 crore rupees). The DoT has claimed that it believes Vodafone Idea owes as much as $7.1 billion (53,000 crore rupees).

It remains unclear whether the DoT will be prepared to waive these fees.

Vodafone Group’s CEO, Nick Read, has repeatedly called for the Indian government to allow Vodafone Idea to repay the dues over a 10 year period, or risk the joint venture not being able to continue as a “going concern”.

The Indian government has repeatedly turned down these overtures and Vodafone Idea has now made payment of the principal amount in full.

It remains to be seen how aggressively the DoT will pursue the payment of the outstanding associated charges.

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