AGR-Hit Vodafone Idea Postpones Q3 Analyst Call
Advertisements for Vodafone India Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. are displayed on a street in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

AGR-Hit Vodafone Idea Postpones Q3 Analyst Call

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Beleaguered telecom operator Vodafone Idea Ltd., which is staring at statutory dues of about Rs 53,000 crore, has postponed its post-earnings conference call with analysts that was scheduled for Friday.

"...further to our letter dated February 11, 2020, on results conference call scheduled for February 14, 2020. We hereby wish to inform that the aforesaid conference call has been postponed," the company said in a regulatory filing on Thursday night.

The new date of the call will be intimated separately, the filing stated, but did not give any reason for the postponement.

On Friday, the Supreme Court directed the top management of telecom companies to explain why contempt action should not be taken against them for non-compliance of its order to pay adjusted gross revenue of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to telecom department.

Taking strong note of the non-compliance of its order, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure over an order passed by the Department of Telecom's desk officer, staying the effect of its verdict in the AGR matter.

Of the three private players operating in the Indian telecom market, Vodafone Idea is considered to be in the most vulnerable position. It is staring at dues worth Rs 53,000 crore, which includes up to Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and another Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee. The firm had earlier warned of shutdown if no relief was given.

Vodafone Idea, in its quarterly results statement on Thursday, cast "significant doubt" on its ability to continue as a going concern. Last week, Vodafone Group Plc’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Read had said the situation in India is critical, following the AGR ruling of the Supreme Court. The British telecom major holds 45.39 percent stake in the Indian company.

Vodafone Idea had posted Rs 50,922 crore loss in the September quarter, when it had made provisions for AGR dues. Its loss in the December quarter was Rs 6,439 crore.

Rival Bharti Airtel Ltd.'s liabilities added up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge dues. But, Airtel had already said that the previously-mentioned material uncertainty on the group's ability to continue as a going concern "no longer exists" after the recent Rs 21,502 crore fund raising by it.

Most of the remaining liability is with state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., and some of the shut or bankrupt telecom firms.

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