Sunday 23 January 2022
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Airtel does not want Vodafone-Idea to shut down

Airtel CEO Vittal said at least three companies must exist to attract investment, create jobs and increase the industry's credibility

Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest telecom company, does not want its rival Vodafone-Idea to shut down. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal has said that it is important for Vodafone-Idea to be in the market due to the financial crisis.

Vittal said that it was necessary for at least three telecom companies to be in the market in India, which would not only increase investment but also create jobs and increase the credibility of the industry.

The Airtel CEO said that telecom companies needed to raise the ARPU (average revenue per consumer) to Rs 300 for stability and growth after battling fierce price war for three years.

After the company’s third-quarter financial results were announced on Wednesday, Vittal said, “I believe Vodafone Idea will remain in the market and I wish it was successful. It is important to have three companies in India’s telecom market, because it is good from every point of view, including investment, and credit.”

Vittal’s remarks come a day after the company’s third-quarter financial results were announced. Apart from the increase in cost, the company has incurred a net loss of Rs 1,035 crore in the December quarter due to the huge amount set aside due to statutory dues and discontinuing 3G services. Airtel’s stock closed 2.77% up at Rs 533.50 on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

The Airtel CEO’s statement comes a day after Nick Reed, head of Vodafone Group plc, said he would not invest new capital in the Indian telecom joint venture Vodafone Idea with the Aditya Birla Group.

Vodafone-Idea AGR, a telecom company caught in a financial crisis plagued by huge debt and constant losses, is ready to pay the statutory dues to the government. However, it says it can continue its business only when the Supreme Court considers leniently the time-limit given to repay the arrears of Rs 53,000 crore to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The apex court had on Friday ordered all telecom companies to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the DoT by that midnight.

Vodafone-Idea is burdened with a debt of more than Rs 1.1 lakh crore. The Supreme Court’s verdict on the AGR has had the most impact on it. The company said it was assessing how much money it could pay to the government.

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