Reliance Jio Advises Airtel, Vodafone Idea

Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd. of Billionaire Mukesh Ambani opposed any move by the government to provide financial relief to rival telecommunications operators who were ordered to pay $7 billion in past dues, saying they had adequate recourse to funds.

Bharti Airtel Ltd. can easily raise Rs. 40,000 crore ($5.7 billion) by selling some of its properties or bonds, while Vodafone Idea Ltd. has no resources to pay its duties to the government, Reliance Jio said in a statement issued on November 1 and Sunday. Bharti and Vodafone Idea had been ordered by the Supreme Court last month to pay Rs. 49,990 crore.

If Airtel liquidates “small parts of its assets or issues 15-20 percent new equity,” Kapoor Singh Guliani, president of regulatory affairs at Reliance Jio, said in the letter in his Indus Tower company that it can easily raise the funds. Vodafone India also has an interest in Indus Towers, he said, “thus there is no lack of sources to charge” their dues.

The tower company of Airtel operates over 1,63,000 cell towers in India. The letter addressed to the telecommunications minister comes after a government panel agreed to review Bharti, controlled by billionaire Sunil Mittal, and Vodafone’s demand to reduce spectrum usage fees and the Universal Service Obligation Fund fee.

The two carriers are struggling with Vodafone Idea, led by billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, posting 11 straight quarters of net losses and Bharti sliding into his June quarter’s first ever loss.

Reliance has separately cited a decision of the Supreme Court which holds spectrum as a finite resource and should not allow its distribution in a manner that is harmful to the public interest.

As ordered by the court, Reliance said, all operators should be required to deposit relevant sums within the three-month period.


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