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Airtel considers filing curative petition on AGR

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : Moments after the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed review petitions by telcos challenging its verdict in the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) case, Bharti Airtel said it is considering filing a curative petition in the matter.

Curative petition is the last constitutional remedy available to a person whose review petition has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The telecom major in a statement expressed disappointment and noted that the AGR dues would further impact the industry which is already reeling under a severe financial stress.

“While respecting the Supreme Court’s decision, we would like to express our disappointment as we believe the long standing disputes raised regarding the AGR definition were bonafide and genuine,” Bharti Airtel said.

The industry needs to continue to invest in expanding networks, acquiring spectrum and introducing new technologies like 5G, it said, adding that the money now required to pay — punitive interest, penalty and interest on penalty — which forms nearly 75 per cent of AGR dues, would have better served the digital mission of the country.

“We are evaluating filing a curative petition,” the statement added.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices S.A. Nazeer and M.R. Shah found no merit in the review petitions and dismissed it.

The final deadline for the telecom companies to pay Rs 1.47 lakh is on January 23.

The Telecom Ministry in November told Parliament that telcos owe nearly Rs 1.47 lakh crore in license fee (LF) and spectrum usage charges (SUC).

The total amount is split in two halves — license fee comes to Rs 92,642 crore as of July 2019 and SUC comes to Rs 55,054 crore as of October 2019.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea hold the majority of these liabilities, which emerge from these dues.

For Bharti Airtel, dues are around Rs 35,586 crore — Rs 21,682 crore as LF and Rs 13,904 crore as SUC and for Vodafone Idea the dues amount to Rs 53,038 crore, of which Rs 28,309 crore in LF and Rs 24,730 crore in SUC.

Airtel has raised $3 billion through a qualified institutional placement (QIP) and an overseas bond to repay the government dues. While Vodafone Idea Ltd has changed the terms of its rights issue to partly use the proceeds for the AGR dues.

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Vodafone Idea plunges 16%, now less than Rs 3 a stock

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Mumbai, Feb 18 : Vodafone Idea scrips on Tuesday plunged over 16 per cent to trade below Rs 3 a stock after India Ratings downgraded its rating on non-convertible debentures of Rs 3,500 crore citing stress on the company’s near-term liquidity post the Supreme Court’s ruling.

From a 52 week high of Rs 35.30 a stock that Vodafone Idea logged on March 13, 2019, it has now fallen below Rs 3 a share on Tuesday as its survival has come under question after the apex court ruling on February 14 directing the telcos to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) related liabilities to the government next month.

With the government mulling the possibilities 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 also not be encashed. Birla has maintained that without relief on the AGR payout, it may not be possible to continue as a going concern.

The company in a regulatory filing said that “India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), has downgraded its rating on Non-Convertible Debentures of Rs 3,500 crore of erstwhile Vodafone Mobile Services Limited (since merged with the Company)”.

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Bill Gates Is Driving a Porsche Taycan. Here’s Why He Didn’t Get a Tesla

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San Francisco, Feb 18 : Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday took a jibe at Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates after the world’s second richest man declared he has bought his first EV — Porsche Taycan.

Gates told a noted YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee in an interview that he purchased his first-ever EV Porsche Taycan, calling the vehicle “very, very cool”.

“My conversations with Gates have been underwhelming tbh (to be honest),” Musk tweeted to a user.

The initial EV Porsche Taycan Turbo S model starts at $185,000 while the entry-level Tesla Model 3 starts from $35,000.

In the interview, Brownlee asked Gates about his thoughts on Tesla’s dominance in the electric vehicle market.

Gates acknowledged that Tesla is the cream of the crop when it comes to electric cars, adding that lots of manufacturers are moving to produce electric vehicles because Tesla’s appeal has been increased over the past few years.

“Tesla, if you had to name one company, that’s helped drive that, it’s them,” said Gates.

You can watch the complete interview here:

Musk has been tweeting his thoughts about tech honchos.

He recently questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and called Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos a “copycat”.

Gates recently commissioned a $644 million hydrogen-powered superyacht. The plans of buying the superyacht were unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in December last year.

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Network18, TV18 stocks rise after consolidation announcement

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Mumbai, Feb 18 (IANS) Shares of Network18, TV18, Hathway and Den Networks surged on Tuesday after Reliance Industries’ announcement of consolidating the four entities into Network18.

Late on Monday evening, RIL announced a consolidation of its media and distribution businesses spread across multiple entities into Network18 and said that its stake in Network18 will reduce from 75 per cent to 64 per cent upon implementation of the scheme.

At 10.30 a.m., stocks of Network18 on the BSE were at Rs 30.05, higher by 4.89 from the previous close, and shares of TV18 were 14.12 per cent higher at Rs 28.70 per share.

Hathway Cable Datacom was at Rs 23.10 up 20 per cent, and stocks of Den Networks were up nearly 10 per cent at Rs 59.50 per share.

In its statement on Monday, RIL said: “The appointed date for the merger shall be February 1, 2020. The Board of Directors of the respective companies approved the scheme of amalgamation and arrangement at their meetings held today.”

The broadcasting business will be housed in Network18 and the cable and ISP businesses in two separate wholly owned subsidiaries of Network18. The company said that the restructuring would create value-chain integration, and render substantial economies of scale.

Post the consolidation, Network18 will be an integrated media and distribution company with a revenue of Rs 8,000 crore and will scale-up as one of the largest listed players in the sector, according to the company. Network18 will be net-debt free at consolidated level, providing a solid base for growth as well as improved shareholder returns, the statement said.

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