Vodafone Idea Receives Government Relief Package

Debt-stricken mobile carrier Vodafone Idea is looking at funding deals with potential investors after receiving a relief package from the Indian government, Capacity Media reported. The telecoms operator has a net debt of US$25.86 billion (1.91 trillion rupees), including government dues of 1.68 trillion rupees. The chairman of the company, Kumar Mangalam Birla, had previously offered to transfer the group’s entire shareholding to the government to help stave off collapse. Last week, the Indian government approved a relief package for the country's struggling telecoms sector. This included a four-year moratorium on airwaves fees due to the state; an extension on the tenure of airwaves from 20 to 30 years; and completely free sharing of spectrum between carriers. According to reports, the package boosted the share prices of Vi as well as Bharti Airtel. The sector has been struggling since 2016, when the entry of billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio sparked a price war that forced rivals out of the market and led to falling profits. After this, private phone operators exited the market, filed for bankruptcy, or merged with rivals in order to continue existing. Read more.