It’s still not clear whether Vodafone Idea will be helped out by the Indian government, but reports on last week’s meeting between the CEO of parent company Vodafone and government ministers indicate that the participants seemed to be making the right noises.
Vodafone’s CEO Nick Read, who came to India to discuss the problems faced by Vodafone Idea, which Vodafone part owns, assured the government that it does not want to leave the country, despite the massive dues Vodafone Idea still faces after last October’s adjusted gross revenue (AGR) judgement by the Supreme Court.
In turn finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured him, according to Indian news reports, of their desire to avoid a monopoly in the telecommunications sector. They are now said to be looking at financial relief measures for companies in the sector, including, presumably, Vodafone Idea.
The AGR problem has been around in various forms for many years and Read seemed to agree that Vodafone Idea could have dealt with it a lot earlier. Now, however, Vodafone Idea insists that the entire $7 billion or more owed is too much for it to pay.
Confusingly enough, Vodafone Idea has also submitted a self-assessment which indicates that it owes about $2.9 billion – less than half the government estimate. It has also indicated that a payment of about $472 million is imminent. This would double the amount so far paid.