Banks to discuss next course of action on debt-laden Vodafone Idea


Lenders to Vodafone Idea (VIL) are expected to hold talks to decide on the future course of action with regard to their exposure to the debt-laden telecom player which is struggling to stay afloat.

This comes in the wake of Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla offering to hand over his stake in VIL to the government or any other entity so that the company remains functional.

Meanwhile, Birla on Wednesday stepped down as non-executive director and non-executive chairman of Vodafone Idea.

S S Mallikarjuna Rao, MD and CEO of Punjab National Bank, on Tuesday said the developments in the last few days were areas of concern for the banking industry, referring the AGR-related issues for the telecom players.

Rao, however, said PNB's exposure is not very high in VIL and it is not going to impact its balance sheet.

"However, we will be definitely discussing with other bankers to see what kind of action we need to take going forward considering the statement of K M Birla only yesterday," Rao said, referring to the billionaire businessman's offer to hand over his stake in VIL to the government or any other entity.

The Supreme Court has dismissed applications by telcos for recalculation of AGR-related dues.

According to official data, VIL had an adjusted gross revenue (AGR) liability of Rs 58,254 crore, out of which the company has paid Rs 7,854.37 crore and Rs 50,399.63 crore is outstanding.

The apex court, in an order passed in September last year, had asked the telecom players to settle their AGR related dues worth Rs 93,520 crore towards the government over a period of 10 years.

VIL's gross debt, excluding lease liabilities, stood at Rs 1,80,310 crore as of March 31, 2021.

IDFC First Bank has marked the account of VIL as stressed and has made provisions of 15 per cent (Rs 487 crore) against the outstanding exposure of Rs 3,244 crore (funded and non-funded).

"This provision translates to 24 per cent of the funded exposure on this account. The said account is current and has no overdues as of June 30, 2021," the lender said in its Q1FY22 investor presentation, referring to the account as "one large telecom account".

Writing a letter to Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba in June, Birla, who holds around 27 per cent stake in VIL, said investors are not willing to invest in the company in the absence of clarity on AGR liability, adequate moratorium on spectrum payments and most importantly floor pricing regime being above the cost of service.

"It is with a sense of duty towards the 27 crore Indians connected by VIL, I am more than willing to hand over my stake in the company to any entity- public sector/government /domestic financial entity or any other that the government may consider worthy of keeping the company as a going concern," Birla said in the letter.

Among the other players, the AGR liability of Bharti Airtel is Rs 43,980 crore, Tata group Rs 16,798 crore, BSNL Rs 5,835.85 crore and MTNL Rs 4,352.09 crore.

Bharti Airtel has paid the government Rs 18,004 crore, Tatas Rs 4,197 crore and Reliance Jio has cleared its entire dues of Rs 194.79 crore.

Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications owes Rs 25,194.58 crore, Aircel Rs 12,389 crore and Videocon Telecommunications Rs 1,376 crore.

However, these companies are under liquidation process.

Companies like Loop Telecom, Etisalat DB and S Tel, which jointly owe the government Rs 604 crore, have shut down their India operations.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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