Vodafone Idea plunges 24% post SC dismisses review petition

India’s Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Vodafone’s Plea Over Payments

Is there no law in country: SC asks telecom companies

On Friday, the Supreme Court threatened contempt proceedings against top executives of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom firms for failing to comply with its directive to pay an estimated Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past dues. The court said that if the amount was not paid, the managing directors and other senior officers of the companies will have to personally appear in court for the next hearing.

Rival Bharti Airtel's liabilities added up to almost Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge dues. The company had earlier warned of shutdown if no relief was given on the AGR matter.

In recent months, executives of United Kingdom -headquartered Vodafone, which owns 45% of Vodafone Idea, have said that the group's telecom business in India would "shut shop" if the government does not offer it any relief. "There's zero hope for Vodafone idea", said Neerav Dalal, an analyst at Kim Eng Securities Pvt in Mumbai.

For example, Vodafone plc exited its USA joint venture Verizon Wireless for a consideration of almost $130 billion while it sold its stake in an Egyptian joint venture for almost $2.4 billion. They (Telecom Companies) can stay the order?

Shares of Vodafone Idea tanked on Friday following the Supreme Court verdict. On the NSE, it dropped 18.88 per cent to Rs 3.65.

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The company has to repay long-term debts worth Rs 14,800 crore by the end of FY20, according to its filing for Q3FY20. This was the highest revenue growth the company reported since the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular in 2018.

VIL had made a provision of Rs 44,150 crore (Rs 27,610 crore for licence fees and Rs 16,540 crore towards spectrum usage charges) till the quarter ended September 30, 2019, for the disputed liabilities towards AGR.

Vodafone Idea stock has lost 80% in last one year and fallen 39.61% since the beginning of this year.

Airtel is expected to survive this crisis. Shares in Bharti Airtel rose 4.64 percent on Friday as it pledged to pay its 100 billion rupees ($1.4bn) balance "well before" the March deadline.

Bharti Airtel Ltd and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd now have the opportunity to win market share and enjoy an effective duopoly in the telecom sector. "Is there any law left in the country?"

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Mandar Deshpande, an Indian accounting and finance services officer, is the "desk officer" who faced much of the Supreme Court's ire over non-payment of dues by telecom firms.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to explain why it did not take action against telcos for failing to pay the dues.

"We don't know who is creating this nonsense", the court said. "It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country", the bench observed. The report said Deshpande's order of January 23 had been issued with the approval of DoT's member (finance) P.K. Sinha.

In December 2019, Vodafone-Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said that the telecom venture would shut down if the Modi government did not provide relief in light of the SC's verdict.

The Supreme Court asked the government to call the officer to court and questioned what action was being taken against him.

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