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Tue, 25 Feb 2020

Northeast Today

SC agrees to hear telecos plea seeking time to pay AGR dues

SC agrees to hear telecos plea seeking time to pay AGR dues
January 21
12:06 2020

NET Bureau

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the modification applications of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices on AGR dues next week. This implies that the telcos do not have to pay their statuary dues by January 23, till the apex court’s further directions, granting them some relief.

The three telcos wanted to be allowed to negotiate conditions and schedules for payment of statutory dues with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), according to their petitions.

The bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde said a bench headed by justice Arun Mishra will hear the matter next week.

Vodafone Idea shares surged 13.6% to Rs 5.52 while the Airtel stock was down 0.2% at Rs 508.50. The Bharti Infratel stock was also 5.9% higher at Rs 235.

The ‘modification’ applications were filed on Monday after the Supreme Court last week rejected the pleas of the three phone companies to review the October 24 verdict that widened the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). That left the three companies facing more than Rs 1.02 lakh crore in additional licence fees, spectrum usage charges (SUC), penalties and interest.

The phone companies have made clear that without some relief, their operations will get hit and, in the case of Vodafone Idea, things could come to a halt.

Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel face statutory dues of Rs 53,039 crore and Rs 35,586 crore, respectively. Tata Teleservices, which has sold its consumer mobility business to Bharti Airtel, faces dues of Rs 13,823 crore.

While Bharti Airtel has the cushion of $3 billion it just raised through qualified institutional placements and bond sales, Tata Teleservices could potentially rely on parent Tata Sons for support. Vodafone Idea has said previously that it would be hard pressed to carry on without some relief. It may, however, offer to pay about Rs 4,000 crore to avoid the tag of defaulter.

Source: The Economic Times

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