Vodafone Idea News - Only cash can save Vodafone Idea from a slow death

Vodafone Idea News - Only cash can save Vodafone Idea from a slow death
Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group and Idea Cellular Limited, and Mr. Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone Group Plc at the Idea Vodafone merger press conference in MumbaiBCCL
  • Analysts believe Vodafone Idea needs significant equity infusion to survive.
  • While the telco said its future depends on the outcome of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues case in the Supreme Court, there are a lot of other dues in the coming months.
  • Meanwhile, the pace at which it's losing users, the company is becoming less and less attractive for investors .
  • Check out the latest news and updates on Business Insider.
On June 30, Vodafone Idea told the stock exchanges in India that it’s ability to continue as a “going concern” will depend on whether the Supreme Court allows it to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues over the next 20 years.

‘Going concern’ is a term that refers to the company’s ability to make enough money to stay afloat or avoid bankruptcy.

But the pace at which the country’s third largest mobile service provider is losing money and subscribers, there is a lot more that sink the Aditya Birla Group company leaving India’s telecom market at the mercy of a duopoly between Reliance Jio and Airtel.

CompanyNo. of subscribers
Reliance Jio382.8 million
Airtel329 million
Vodafone Idea325.5 million
BSNL119.9 million

Source: TRAI, as of February 2020


Not long ago, Vodafone was the country’s largest telco. Now, it is one that posted the highest-ever loss by an Indian company at ₹73,878 crore in the financial year 2019-20, beating its own record from three months earlier.

“Vodafone Idea does not have the financial flexibility and balance sheet to raise capital, but it needs equity injection if it has to survive,” Nitin Soni, senior director, Fitch Ratings, told Business Insider.

While Jio has raised ₹1,17,588 crore in the last 11 weeks, Airtel has been raising money slow and steady to invest in future opportunities, Vodafone needs money just to survive and it isn’t getting any. Not yet.

The report of a possible investment from Google had given investors some hope but there was no mention of it from the company after the latest earnings.

Vodafone Idea News - Only cash can save Vodafone Idea from a slow death
Vodafone Idea share price since AprilBSE / Business Insider India / Flourish

Analysts suggest that the company needs money for many reasons. First up, there is ₹18,683 crore of debt up for repayment in the next 12 months.

Financial metricParticulars
Cash and cash equivalents₹2,663 core
Net profit margin-165.11%
Debt to equity ratio (x times)16.11
Return on capital employed-6.40%
Net worth₹5979 crore
Source: Company reports

There will be more dues thereafter. “Beyond FY22 (when annual spectrum debt repayment of around ₹15,700 crore resumes), we believe the company’s viability will remain under a cloud without strong operational improvement and significant equity infusion,” said Credit Suisse analysts, as quoted by Economic Times.

Queries sent to Vodafone Idea remained unanswered.

Losing money and losing customers

What’s also hurting Vodafone Idea’s bottom line is that it is losing millions of users. In its latest release, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) revealed that Vodafone Idea lost 3.5 million subscribers in February.

More importantly, Vodafone Idea is unable to retain users who are converting from 3G to 4G. Analysts believe this prevents the company from getting the maximum benefit of tariff hikes.

“4G subscribers would be critical to get maximum benefit of tariff hikes, as we believe the highest rise in future tariffs will be on prepaid 4G plans,” said ICICI Securities in its report dated July 1.

Vodafone Idea needs money to give users better service, and needs users to earn money. However, its average revenue per user is the least compared to Airtel and Jio. But if it does increase tariff, it will be even less competitive than it already is, and risks losing more subscribers.

CompanyAverage revenue per user
Reliance Jio₹131
Vodafone Idea₹121

Source: Company reports

That’s the definition of a catch 22 situation. The only thing that can end this vicious cycle is capital infusion.

BrokerTarget priceRecommendation
ICICI Securities₹10Sell
IIFL Securities₹12Buy

Source: ICICI Securities, Economic Times


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Vodafone Idea says it’s ‘barely afloat’, appeals Supreme Court to stagger spectrum payments over 20 years

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