Vodafone Idea & SBI Loan
Vodafone Idea: A source familiar with the matter says Vodafone is in talks with India’s largest bank about lending to its troubled Indian subsidiary. If successful, the deal could set the stage for other banks to offer loans to Vodafone, which could boost its survival chances.
According to people who for all intents and purposes asked not to kind of be named because the discussions regarding Vodafone Idea actually are private, State Bank of India literally has for the most part requested that the sort of joint venture between Vodafone and billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla outline a turnaround strategy first, contrary to popular belief.
Vodafone Idea has been asked by the government-owned lender to present a detailed plan on their financial viability that includes equity infusion from their largest shareholders, cash conservation plans, tariff outlooks, and a return to profitability plan.
According to the people, the mobile-phone operator is preparing the lender with this information. It’s unclear if the funding will be forthcoming. Discussions are still ongoing.
A request for comments was not responded to by the State Bank of India. It declined to comment on Vodafone Idea’s quarterly earnings report to be released on Friday.
Vodafone asks for a 3-quarter deferral of dues
In this fiscal year, Vodafone Idea (NS:VODA), India’s third-largest telecoms company, will not be able to pay two quarterly fees totaling Rs 6,000 crore — spectrum usage charges (SUC) and license fees (LF).
The telco for all intents and purposes has literally asked the apex department to defer its dues for the 9-month period, which it will clear in April and May 2022 along with the actual overhead interest.
DoT has not released a decision on Vi’s request because as per the rules, telecom service providers are responsible for paying out LF and SUC for airwaves used, which is paid every three months.
DoT Officials Surprised
In September, the government had already actually rolled out several relief measures to basically help the ailing telecom sector in the country, so Vodafone (LON:VOD) Idea”s request to defer the taxes came as a surprise to the DoT, which essentially is fairly significant.
In addition to a four-year moratorium on AGR and spectrum payment, bank guarantees have been reduced, and SUC has been removed for any additional spectrum acquired through future auctions. Also during their deferred payment period, telcos have the option of converting their principal statutory dues to equity when their moratorium period expires.
It was Vodafone Idea that was the first telco to confirm its intention to pay AGR and spectrum dues after FY 2025-26, under the four-year moratorium. Telco will save nearly Rs 1 lakh crore through this move.
Vodafone Idea Loan
In the event the bank loan materializes, it will be a lifeline for Reliance Jio, which has lost subscribers to larger rivals since Mukesh Ambani’s company unleashed a tariff war in 2016. As a result of India’s policy relief measures in September, which helped Vodafone Idea avert insolvency, banks have become more amenable toward the unprofitable wireless operator.
A government extension that gave mobile phone companies more time to pay their dues saved India’s third-largest wireless operator from bankruptcy. Vodafone Idea will thus extinguish some of the bank guarantees it gave to the government, thus allowing the lenders more credit options, one of the people said.
According to JM Financial, Vodafone Idea’s debt was 1.9 trillion rupees ($26 billion) at end-June, of which 1.68 trillion rupees were owed to the government and 234 billion rupees to lenders.
People familiar with the matter said that the State Bank of India has the highest exposure to Vodafone Idea.