Indian news outlets are suggesting that a resumption of talks between operator Vodafone Idea and potential investors is under way.
Specially, the e-commerce giant Amazon and US operator Verizon are said to be willing to resume talks to buy a large stake in the cash-strapped company. A sum in excess of $4 billion has been mentioned.
The talks apparently began a few months back. However, according to Indian business news publication Mint, they were put on hold due to the ongoing Supreme Court hearings over AGR dues in general and the payback time in particular.
We now know that all operators will have ten years to clear their outstanding AGR dues. This may not be as long as Vodafone Idea had hoped (15 years had been mentioned), but at least the decision ends any uncertainty and means that immediate payment is not required.
In fact the bankruptcy option, which had been possible if the worst happened, is no longer on the table, according to Indian press reports. The first payment will be in 2022 as about $1 billion of the original $7 billion in Vodafone Idea’s AGR dues has already been paid.
While the immediate market response to the Supreme Court judgement, which gave Vodafone Idea 10 years to pay the outstanding $6 billion in back fees, was a fall in share price, there has been a rebound since.
However, apart from the AGR dues, Vodafone Idea still has an estimated $14 billion of debt, according to some reports, and needs to find adequate funds to invest in attracting subscribers and planning for 5G rollout.