Vodafone CEO Reed meets Sitharaman, Prasad over VIL’s state

VIL has the maximum AGR dues of Rs 53,000 crore, of which it paid Rs 3,500 crore last month.
Nirmala Sitharaman Vodafone CEO

New Delhi, March 6: Vodafone Group CEO Nick Reed, accompanied by Vodafone India MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar, on Friday met Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, seeking relief to be able to meet the AGR demands and remain in business.

The global CEO had a 40-minute meeting with Prasad and Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash in which he discussed the company’s current financial situation.

Earlier, he had met Finance Minister nirmala Sitharaman at North Block.

Reed’s India visit, ahead of final hearing of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issue by the Supreme Court, slated for March 17, is seen as pressing the government for relief. Sources said he apprised the minister of Vodafone Idea’s poor financial conditions. The telco has the maximum AGR dues of Rs 53,000 crore, of which it paid Rs 3,500 crore last month.

Vodafone Idea on Friday submitted its self assessment of statutory dues to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and said that its AGR dues stand at Rs 21,533 crore as per its calculations. DoT is yet to get back on this.

Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), a joint venture between the UK’s Vodafone group and India’s Aditya Birla group’s Idea Cellular, has repeatedlyA sought government intervent ion to overcome its financial crisisA

Last November, Reed had said that he was confident about India’s growth potential and the country was an important market for the multinational company.

The telco recently paid Rs 3,042.80 crore for airwaves bought in the auctions of 2014, in addition to Rs 2,500 crore it cleared in February against the AGR dues.

Last month, Vodafone Idea Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla met Sitharaman and the DoT Secretary Anshu Prakash to press the demand for relaxation and relief.

Birla had earlier said that without any government relief, the telecom joint venture might be forced to wind up.

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