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Vodafone Idea Posts Rs 73,878 Crore Loss In 2019-20

New Delhi: Vodafone Idea, the country’s third largest telecom operator, on Wednesday reported a staggering net loss of Rs 73,878 crore in the financial year ended March 31, on account of provisions for the Supreme Court mandated statutory dues. That marked the highest ever net loss reported by an Indian firm. The firm – which has to pay Rs 51,400 crore dues after the top court ordered the non-telecom revenues to be included in calculating statutory dues – said the liability has cast a “significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

Vodafone Idea’s net loss widened to Rs 11,643.5 crore in the January-March period of financial year 2019-20, from Rs 6,438.8 crore in the previous quarter, and Rs 4,881.9 crore in the quarter ended March 31, 2019, the telecom major said in a regulatory filing.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) estimates the company’s dues related to adjusted gross revenue (AGR) at Rs 58,254 crore for period up to financial year 2016-17, but the company has pegged the dues at Rs 46,000 crore “after adjustment of certain computational errors and payments made in the past not considered in the DoT demand”. Of the total dues, it has made a payment of Rs 6,854.4 crore so far.

The company took a hit of Rs 1,783.6 crore on account of AGR-related liabilities, and Rs 3,887 crore on account of one-time spectrum charges (OTSC), both of which were recognised as exceptional items during the quarter ended March 2019.

Revenue from operations in the quarter ended March 31, 2020 came in at Rs 11,754.2 crore. For the full year financial year that ended on the same day, Vodafone Idea’s losses stood at Rs 73,878.1 crore, as against Rs 14,603.9 crore in financial year 2018-19.

The company said that the financial results for the year ended March 31, 2020 are not comparable with the corresponding period a year ago due to the merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular which took effect in August 2018.

The revenue from operations for financial year 2019-20 stood at Rs 44,957.5 crore, as against Rs 37,092.5 crore in 2018-19.

Vodafone Idea said in a statement that its revenue rose 6 per cent compared to the previous quarter driven by prepaid tariff hikes effective December 2019.

“Our focus on rapid network integration, as well as 4G coverage and capacity expansion, has further improved customer experience. We thus continue to lead the league tables on 4G data download speeds across several states, metros and large cities. We have achieved our full opex merger synergy target,” said Ravinder Takkar, managing director and CEO, Vodafone Idea.

The next Supreme Court hearing on the AGR matter is scheduled to be held in the third week of July, he added.

“Meanwhile, we continue to actively engage with the government seeking a comprehensive relief package for the industry, which faces critical challenges,” Mr Takkar said.

As of March 31, 2020, the company’s gross debt (excluding lease liabilities) was Rs 1,15,000 crore including deferred spectrum payment obligations of Rs 87,650 crore due to the government.

“The network integration is in final stages of completion but has been impacted by the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19. As of date, we have completed network integration in 92 per cent of total districts,” the company said.

Due to the continuation of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the remaining consolidation is expected to take longer than initially expected, it said.

The company’s subscriber base eroded to 291 million in the January-March period from 304 million in the previous quarter.

Its average revenue per user (ARPU), a key measures of a telecom company’s profitability, improved to Rs 121 in the January-March period, from Rs 109 in the previous quarter, driven by the prepaid tariff hike.

Vodafone Idea maintained it plans to monetise its 11.15 per cent stake in Indus Towers on completion of the Indus-Infratel merger.

The company said there is no material impact of the pandemic on its overall performance, but it continues to monitor the situation closely.

On the AGR matter, the company said that it has recognised a total estimated liability of Rs 46,000 crore.

“The total estimated liability of Rs 460,000 million stands reduced as at March 31, 2020, to the extent of payment (Rs 6,854.4 crore) made,” the company said in the regulatory filing.

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