New Delhi: Vodafone CEO Nick Read on Tuesday warned that Vodafone-Idea, which is India’s second-largest telecom company, may be headed for liquidation if the Indian government does not ease-off on demands for mobile spectrum fees.
Speaking at a press round-table in London, Read expressed doubt over the company’s presence in India, saying that its future here could be in doubt if the government did not stop imposing higher charges and taxes on telecom operators in the aftermath of the Supreme Court verdict asking the operators to pay Rs 92,000 crore as past dues.
He also remarked that India, where Vodafone formed a joint venture with the Aditya Birla group’s Idea Cellular last September, had been a ‘challenging situation’ for a long time. “But we still have 30 crore customers or 30% marketshare,’ he added.
Read also denied reports in the British media that Vodafone had given an ‘ultimatum’ to India over provisions to compete with chief rival Reliance Jio, which is the country’s largest telecom operator. Made available for public service in September 2016, Jio has a subscriber base of 331.3 million or 33.13 crore, while Vodafone-Idea’s subscriber base is 320 million or 32 crore.
Warning about a possible liquidation scenario, he said that if the remedies suggested by Vodafone to India were not implemented, such a scenario was entirely possible. Read and Vodafone chairman Gerard Kleisterlee had met Indian government officials in September, and, arguing that Vodafone was the largest direct foreign investor here, had suggested some relief proposals.
The said proposals, according to reports, are currently under the consideration of a government panel.