- Finance Ministry has cleared the proposal to acquire a stake in debt-ridden Vodafone Idea (Vi)
- The government is set to become the single largest shareholder of Vi with 33 percent stake
- Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will give its approval once Vi’s share stabilises over Rs 10
Vodafone Idea (Vi), the third largest telecom operator in India, is all set to be acquired by the Indian government. The Indian government will become the single largest shareholder of the debt-ridden telco with 33 percent share after the company’s stock price stabilises at Rs 10 or above, per a report by PTI. The move will bring down the promoters’ equity to 50 percent from the current 74.99 percent. For the uninitiated, the Finance Ministry has already given its nod to acquire a stake in VIL (Vodafone Idea Limited). However, per the market regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) norms, the acquisition cannot happen below par value.
“There is a SEBI norm that the acquisition should take place at par value. DoT will clear the acquisition after VIL shares stabilise at Rs 10 or above,” an official source told PTI. Vi’s share price was Rs 9.70 as of Thursday, September 9th.
This comes after Vi failed to raise funds and clear off its dues. The company’s total gross debt (excluding lease liabilities and including interest accrued but not due) currently stands at Rs 1,99,088 crore. The amount comprises deferred spectrum payment obligations of Rs 1,16,600 crore, AGR liabilities of Rs 67,720 crore that are due to the government, and debt from banks and financial institutions of Rs 15,200 crore.
At the start of the year, the debt-ridden telco decided to opt for converting its Rs 16,000 crore of interest liability to the government into 33 percent equity in the company. Vi offered a stake to the government at a par valley of Rs 10 per share. However, the shares have been trading below Rs 10 since April 19th. This is preventing the government from taking over Vi.
Vi has also been trying to raise funds, Rs 25,000 crore to be exact, for over two years now. But, as of March 2022, it only managed to get Rs 4,500 crore from its promoter entities, while around Rs 20,000 crore is still remaining.