Government does not want to take over Vodafone Idea operations: CEO

Existing promoters are fully committed to managing and running the company’s operations, Ravinder Takkar says

Vodafone Idea, mobile service rates, cell phone service rates, tariffs, debt, average revenue
Vodafone Idea is reeling under a debt burden of about ₹1.95 lakh crore | Representational Image: Pixabay

The chief executive of Vodafone Idea said on Wednesday said that the government had made it clear that it does not want to run the company, adding that the existing promoters are fully committed to managing and running its operations.

Ravinder Takkar’s statement came a day after Vodafone Idea announced its decision to opt for converting about 16,000 crore interest dues liability payable to the government into equity, which will amount to around a 35.8 per cent stake in the company.

If the plan goes through, the government will become the biggest shareholder in the company, which is reeling under a debt burden of about 1.95 lakh crore.

Also read: Govt to get 35.8% stake in debt-ridden Vodafone Idea worth ₹16,000 crore

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Takkar told reporters in a virtual briefing that there is no condition in the Telecom Department’s letter on equity conversion option, which allows for board seats for the government. The existing promoters are fully committed to managing and running the company’s operations, he said.

“In all of our interactions with the government leading up to the package and even after the announcement of the package, it has been clearly stated by the government that they do not want to run the company. They do not have the desire to take over operations of the company… They want three private players in the market, they do not want duopoly or monopoly,” he said.

The government has “made it clear they want promoters of this company to run it going forward”, he said, adding that VIL expects no change in their position.

Takkar further said he expects the entire process to conclude in the coming months.

On the rationale for the decision, the VIL boss said that given that most of the telco’s debt is to the government, “it was clear to us that converting some of debt to equity is a good option for the company to reduce its debt going forward”.

Since the average price of the company shares with respect to the relevant date was below par value, the equity shares will be issued to the government at par value of 10 per share, he said.

Post-conversion, Vodafone Group shareholding in the company will drop to around 28.5 per cent, and Aditya Birla Group to around 17.8 per cent.

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