Vodafone Idea
Vodafone Idea
File pic

Vodafone Idea on Wednesday saw a sharp surge in its stock price over reports that the government is unlikely to invoke its bank guarantees for now. Its shares were trading at Rs 4.08 a share, higher by 35 per cent on the BSE.

With the government mulling the possibility of invoking bank guarantees of the telcos to recover the statutory dues, Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla on Tuesday met Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash on the AGR payment issue after paying Rs 2,500 crore on Monday.

The company had urged the court that the bank guarantee deposited with the government by Vodafone Idea should not be encashed. Birla has maintained that without relief on the AGR payout, it may not be possible to continue as a going concern.

On Tuesday, Vodafone Idea's scrips closed 11 per cent lower after India Ratings downgraded its rating on non-convertible debentures of Rs 3,500 crore citing stress on the company's near-term liquidity after the Supreme Court's ruling.

There is likely to be further litigation due to AGR payment in the Indian telecom sector but Airtel will overcome the storm whereas Vodafone Idea vulnerability is highest in the given industry dynamics, analyst firm Credit Suisse said.

Bharti Airtel's Rs 100 billion payment is on an ad-hoc basis and it is in process of self-assessment of AGR dues and will make balance payments before next hearing in court slated for March 17, CS said.

"Bharti Airtel recently raised US$3 billion for funding of AGR payments. Even as the AGR litigation dates back to 2003, Bharti Airtel provisioned for 73 per cent of total US$5 billion AGR dues in 9MFY20. Further of these US$1.2 billion is for principal liabilities, US$2.3 billion is for interest and US$1.4 billion is penalty and interest on penalties. As per industry, with 75 per cent of AGR dues in interest and penalties, further litigation is still likely including for staggering of payments," the report said.

"Amid AGR risks Bharti Airtel's 3QFY20 4G subs additions at 21 m were highest ever and data traffic was up 15 per cent quarter on quarter. In 9MFY20 it has gained 3 ppt data traffic share. Given changing industry dynamics and Vodafone Idea's vulnerability with out-of-control gearing and lag in 4G besides higher spectrum and AGR burden we raise our Bharti Airtel total/4G subs forecasts by 7-14 per cent to 325m/250m by March 2022."

"We await Bharti Airtel's self-assessment of AGR dues, the next steps in industry litigation and Supreme Court's further hearing of AGR case on 17 March. Meanwhile, following the upgrade of our Bharti Airtel's 4G and total subscriber estimates, India mobile Arpu will reach Rs 186 in FY22 (from 3QFY20 exit of Rs140) and FY21/22CL consolidated Ebitda forecasts are higher by 2-7 per cent," CS said.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal