Indian telecom firms fall as court dismisses plea on fee owed to government

Vodafone Idea's shares slid 9.7% to hit their lowest level since October and were set for their worst day in almost a year. Bharti Airtel fell 2.6%

  
FILE PHOTO: A woman checks her mobile phone as she walks past a mobile store of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit, in Mumbai, India, July 11, 2017. Image used for illustrative purpose

FILE PHOTO: A woman checks her mobile phone as she walks past a mobile store of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit, in Mumbai, India, July 11, 2017. Image used for illustrative purpose

REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

BENGALURU - Shares of top Indian telecom companies Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd dropped on Friday after the country's Supreme Court rejected their appeal to correct errors in adjusted gross revenue (AGR) calculations.

Vodafone Idea's shares slid 9.7% to hit their lowest level since October and were set for their worst day in almost a year. Bharti Airtel fell 2.6%.

The companies, hoping to reduce their liabilities, had argued that the country's telecommunications department made arithmetical errors while calculating their AGR dues.

India's telecom providers have to pay the Department of Telecommunications nearly 3%-5% of their AGR in usage charges for airwaves and 8% of AGR as licence fees. They have long disputed the definition of AGR.

Companies say AGR should comprise just revenue accrued from core services, while the government says it should include all revenue, such as money from rent, land sales or sale of scrap.

Debt-laden Vodafone Idea had AGR liabilities of nearly 609.6 billion rupees ($8.19 billion) as of March 31 that were due to the government. The company has been active discussions with potential investors to raise funds.

According to a Business Standard, Vodafone Idea has received a nod for a foreign direct investment of 150 billion rupees.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

($1 = 74.4410 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V) ((ShivaniSingh1@thomsonreuters.com; +91 89 6969 2349))


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