VOD Nov 2019 20.500 call

OPR - OPR Delayed Price. Currency in USD
0.9000
0.0000 (0.00%)
As of 3:52PM EST. Market open.
Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous Close0.9000
Open0.9700
Bid0.0000
Ask0.0000
Strike20.50
Expire Date2019-11-29
Day's Range0.9000 - 1.2400
Contract RangeN/A
Volume157
Open InterestN/A
  • Vodafone lifts outlook as it returns to growth
    Reuters Videos

    Vodafone lifts outlook as it returns to growth

    Vodafone has lifted its outlook for the year. The world's second-largest mobile network operator says core earnings could now go as high as 15 billion euros - about 16.5 billion dollars. That's up from a maximum of 14.2 billion euros in earlier outlooks. The firm is feeling more hopeful after revenues returned to growth. They were up 0.3% in the first half. Core earnings rose 1.4%. Vodafone says conditions improved in Spain and Italy. Retail sales in Germany also did well. Now investors will hope it's evidence of a sustained turnaround. Chief Executive Nick Read cut Vodafone's dividend for the first time in May. Tough market conditions and a need to invest in networks forced him to drop a pledge not to trim the payout. Vodafone shares tumbled following the move, but have recovered about 30% since.

  • 5 Stocks to Profit as U.K. Economy Hits Decade Low in Q3
    Zacks

    5 Stocks to Profit as U.K. Economy Hits Decade Low in Q3

    Brexit uncertainty hurts Britain's labor market, manufacturing sector and trade prospects, leading to slowest annual growth rate of the U.K. economy in nearly a decade.

  • India Imperils Foreign Investment With Telecom Cash Grab
    Bloomberg

    India Imperils Foreign Investment With Telecom Cash Grab

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- For Kumar Mangalam Birla’s textile-to-telecom empire, adversity is a 100-year-old companion. In 1919, when the Indian businessman’s great-grandfather wanted to start a jute mill, the dominant British firm, Andrew Yule & Co., bought all the surrounding Calcutta land. The Imperial Bank, the forerunner of today’s State Bank of India, initially refused Birla a loan.(1)The government of post-independence India stymied the Birla conglomerate with kindness. Soviet-style planning and state socialism protected the family’s legacy licensed firms by keeping competition out. But they inhibited growth. Birla’s father, Aditya Vikram, went to Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines because he wasn’t allowed to expand at home. “I for one fail to see where the concentration of economic power is: with the big business houses or with the government?” he wondered in 1979. Fast forward 40 years, and the 52-year-old current chairman of the group would be justified to reprise his late father’s frustration. The liberalizing spirit of the 1990s Indian economy has lost much of its force. After dismantling the license raj, a system of strict government-controlled production, and encouraging capitalism, New Delhi is gripped once more by a feverish statism that’s making Birla’s shareholders nervous. The slide began before Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, and was one of the reasons why businesses backed his call for “minimum government, maximum governance.” But five years later, relations between private enterprise and the government have turned even testier.Take telecommunications, the main source of investors’ anxiety. Ever since India opened up the state-run sector in the 1990s, the Aditya Birla Group has been an anchor investor. Partners and rivals like AT&T Inc., India’s Tata Group, and Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. came and went, but Birla remained. Currently, the group owns 26% of the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Vodafone Idea Ltd., with the British partner controlling 45%. An Indian court last month directed this bruised survivor of a nasty price war to pay 280 billion rupees ($4 billion) in past government fees, interest and penalties. Overall, India wants to gouge its shriveled telecom industry of $13 billion. The fund-starved government expects operators to cough up more at 5G auctions next year. How long can the Birla boss hang in? With Vodafone Idea saddled with losses and $14 billion in net debt, should he even bother?It’s doubtful whether partner Vodafone Group Plc will linger. This isn’t the first time it has been clobbered by unreasonable government demands. In 2012, India retrospectively changed its tax law to pursue a $2.2 billion withholding tax notice against the U.K. firm. Seven years later, that dispute is far from resolved, and the unit has now been slapped with a new bill.In its half-yearly earnings reported Tuesday in London, Vodafone fully wrote down the book value of its India operations, and warned that the unit could be headed for liquidation. Vodafone’s 42% stake in a separate cellular tower company in the country, once sold, will get used largely to pay off the loan it took to pump capital into the main telecom venture. After that, the U.K. firm will have a little over $1 billion left to support Vodafone Idea, according to India Ratings & Research, a unit of Fitch Ratings. However, the India business would be required to find $5.5 billion just for interest- and spectrum-related payments until March 2022.Will Birla step into the breach?Out of the Indian group’s 26% in Vodafone Idea, about 11.6% is held by Grasim Industries Ltd., and another 2.6% is owned by Hindalco Industries Ltd. Hindalco, among the world’s largest aluminum makers, is battling weak metals demand and a complicated takeover of the U.S.-based Aleris Corp. The bulk of the burden of a telecom rescue — should there be one — would fall on Grasim. It acts as a holding company for Birla’s cement and financial services businesses, apart from directly owning factories that churn out wood-based fiber and chemicals like caustic soda used in soap and detergent.Mumbai-based Emkay Global Financial Services says that in the worst-case scenario, where the government doesn’t back down and Birla refuses to fold his telecom cards, a rescue mounted by by Grasim could cost it 187 rupees per share. If Birla refrains from throwing good money after bad, the value of everything else Grasim owns net of debt is 1,126 rupees a share, or 47% more than the current stock market price. Clearly, the overhang of the Vodafone uncertainty is playing on investor psyche. Once the U.S.-China trade war stops making global textile markets jittery, fiber prices will firm. Grasim, in investors’ view, is better off spending $2 billion on new capacities in fiber, chemicals and cement than wasting any more money trying to salvage the telecom venture.The Indian government should see the folly of effectively turning the telecom industry into a two-horse race between Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., controlled by Mukesh Ambani, the richest Indian, and Bharti Airtel Ltd., which, too, is staggering under a mountain of debt. As IIFL Securities put it, bankruptcy of Vodafone Idea would hurt all stakeholders. Vodafone and Birla would lose control, the government would forgo $1.7 billion in annual spectrum revenue and banks would take losses on their $4 billion-plus exposure.Such an outcome would cast a serious doubt on the ability of private entrepreneurs to flourish, especially if they — like Birla or Amazon.com Inc. boss Jeff Bezos — happen to find themselves in competition with Ambani in a tightly regulated industry. Future investors will think twice. The rift between the government and business wasn’t Modi’s creation, but to allow the mistrust to turn into a chasm would be one of his administration’s gravest mistakes.(1) See, “Aditya Vikram Birla: A Biography” by Minhaz Merchant, Penguin India, 1997To contact the author of this story: Andy Mukherjee at amukherjee@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at pmcdowell10@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • France's Bad Boy of Telecoms Joins the Geriatric Set
    Bloomberg

    France's Bad Boy of Telecoms Joins the Geriatric Set

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Xavier Niel is supposed to be the bad boy of French telecoms. He never finished college, once ran an online sex-chat service, and shook up incumbents like Orange SA with cheap pricing when he launched Free Mobile in 2012.That makes one element of his push to extend control over Free’s parent Iliad SA particularly surprising: the implicit admission that the Paris-based company is becoming just like any other boring telecom company. It's an overdue acknowledgement of market realities.It all comes down to the dividend. Mobile carriers have appealed to investors over the past decade not for their growth prospects but their generous dividend payouts. European telecommunications firms will have an average dividend yield of 5% this year, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with the 3.3% average of the broader Stoxx 600 Index of European companies.Iliad has differed from the crowd. Its 12-month yield has averaged 0.8% since 2009. That’s because it promised growth — the stock climbed almost three-fold between 2009 and 2017. But the past two years have been a different story. Before today, the shares had fallen 63% from their 2017 peak as French rivals reclaimed market share from the low-cost upstart.On Tuesday, Niel announced plans to boost his holding in the firm by as much as 20 percentage points. The complicated structure will see Iliad buy back up to 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) of stock for 120 euros per share, then issue new shares of an equivalent amount that Niel has pledged to buy, in a rights issue to which other shareholders can also subscribe. At the same time, Iliad announced it would increase the dividend by a chunky 189% to 2.60 euros, bringing the yield to more than 2%. That’s still very much at the low end of its peers but a substantial change in policy, particularly at a time when the region’s giants — Vodafone Group Plc and Deutsche Telekom AG — are cutting their dividends as they anticipate increased spending on 5G networks.For Niel, it’s a canny way of using the company’s stronger balance sheet to extend his control. Iliad is expecting proceeds of more than 2 billion euros from the sale of infrastructure assets this year. If he increases his stake to above 70% from the current 52%, as the buyback and rights issue might allow, he can expect annual dividend proceeds exceeding 100 million euros. That can help him service the personal debt that he’s likely assuming to fund the rights issue. The move may also strengthen Niel's hand and his financial upside, should the perennial on-again, off-again efforts to consolidate the French market resume.The steps at Iliad don’t particularly disadvantage existing shareholders financially, even if they do seem to be very much in Niel’s interest. They’re under no obligation to sell, and have already benefited from a jump in the share price, which climbed 18% on Tuesday. Nor does the increased payout significantly weaken the firm’s finances: The dividend payout will top 154 million euros. Net debt of 3.7 times Ebitda will fall closer to 2.5 times Ebitda. And it’s far less outrageous than the self-interested efforts of fellow French billionaire Vincent Bollore and his family to extend control over Vivendi SA. The Bollores are simply carrying out a buyback of the media conglomerate’s shares, then canceling them, leaving the family with a bigger stake without increasing their financial risk.But for all of Niel’s assertions that the investment reflects his “confidence in the company’s industrial project,” he will likely need Iliad to continue the more generous dividend payouts to service his greater debt. That will gradually chip away at Iliad’s ability to engage in costly price wars to drive market share. Instead, it’s becoming more like its rivals, generating steadier, more predictable returns, rather than promising stratospheric stock growth.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at awebb25@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Vodafone Expands UK Broadband Coverage With Openreach Deal
    Zacks

    Vodafone Expands UK Broadband Coverage With Openreach Deal

    Vodafone (VOD) will offer its Gigafast Broadband service to three new cities in the United Kingdom, namely Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool by spring 2020 through Openreach's FTTP network.

  • European stocks inch higher before key Trump speech on China
    MarketWatch

    European stocks inch higher before key Trump speech on China

    European stocks edged higher on Tuesday ahead of a critical speech on China trade relations from President Donald Trump, supported by generally well-received earnings.

  • Barrons.com

    European Stocks Lean Higher Before Critical Trump Speech on China

    European stocks edged higher on Tuesday ahead of a critical speech on China trade relations from President Donald Trump, supported by generally well-received earnings.

  • Situation critical: Vodafone's future in India in doubt after court ruling
    Reuters

    Situation critical: Vodafone's future in India in doubt after court ruling

    Vodafone said its future in India could be in doubt unless the government stopped hitting operators with higher taxes and charges, after a court judgment over licence fees resulted in a 1.9 billion euro group loss in its first half. Chief Executive Nick Read said India, where Vodafone formed a joint venture with Idea Cellular in 2018, had been "a very challenging situation for a long time", but Vodafone Idea still had 300 million customers, equating to a 30% share of the sizable market. "Financially there's been a heavy burden through unsupportive regulation, excessive taxes and on top of that we got the negative supreme court decision," he said on Tuesday.

  • Bloomberg

    Vodafone Jumps as Return to Growth Eases Pressure on CEO

    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Vodafone Group Plc returned to sales growth in the second quarter as its toughest European market of Spain showed signs of improvement, in a boost for Chief Executive Officer Nick Read. Its shares rose as much as 3.2% Organic service revenue grew 0.7%, above the 0.2% forecast by analysts. It follows two quarters of declines. Vodafone also upgraded its full-year earnings guidance.Key InsightsRead needs some decent sales growth to generate cash for network investments and service debts built up with Vodafone’s purchase of Liberty Global Plc assets.South Africa, Italy and Spain all improved as Vodafone faced tough competition from former phone monopolies and no-frills challengers. The company said it had the best ever quarter for new customers in the U.K.Read said he expects to build upon the revenue growth in the second half of the year in both Europe and Africa.The company toned down its guidance on full-year free cashflow, while boosting its forecast for earnings after the Liberty Global deal.Market ReactionVodafone shares were up 2.5% as of 8:30 a.m. in London. The stock has risen 14% in the past year, outpacing a 5% rise in the Stoxx 600 Telecommunications Index, as investors welcomed Read’s plans to collaborate more with rivals on infrastructure to cut costs.NOTE: Vodafone CEO’s Wild First Year Leaves Stock Where It StartedOn Monday, 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg rated the stock a buy, six hold and two sell.Get MoreThe company made a loss in its Indian business after a court ordered it to pay a spectrum fee. It now sees group free cash flow of “around” 5.4 billion euros versus previous guidance of “at least” 5.4 billion. Vodafone sees adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 14.8 billion euros to 15 billion euros, up from its previous guidance of 13.8 billion to 14.2 billion.Company statementNOTE: BT Drops as Liberty Global Switches to Vodafone for Mobile(Updates with share price rise. A previous version of this story was corrected to fix the revenue growth figure.)To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Seal in London at tseal@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, Thomas PfeifferFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Vodafone lifts 2020 earnings guidance on Liberty Global gains
    MarketWatch

    Vodafone lifts 2020 earnings guidance on Liberty Global gains

    The British telecommunications company upgraded its earnings outlook as it said that lower cash flows from India and the New Zealand sale will lead to slightly lower-than-previously-expected cash flow and posted a narrowed pretax loss for the first half.

  • Financial Times

    Vodafone upgrades profit guidance despite India woes

    Vodafone has upgraded its profit guidance for the year by up to €1bn despite slumping to a loss in the first half as a result of its Indian turmoil. Group chief executive Nick Read and chairman Gerard Kleisterlee travelled to India last month to ask the government for a series of “relief” measures to ensure Vodafone Idea does not collapse as a result of the penalty.

  • Financial Times

    Vodafone’s share price disconnected from €1bn earnings boost

    This state intermediation meant Vodafone’s free cash flow from India fell to zero in the six months to September 30 — cutting its full-year cash flow guidance, after allowing for the sale of its New Zealand business and acquisition of Liberty Global assets, to “around €5.4bn” from “at least” that figure previously.

  • Financial Times

    Vodafone strikes deal with BT to expand broadband coverage

    Vodafone has struck a deal with BT to use its network to offer broadband to up to half a million customers in three British cities. BT, via its Openreach network unit, is under pressure to upgrade rapidly Britain’s copper telephone lines to “full fibre” connections but needs to bring millions of customers who use other broadband brands on board to justify the cost. to offer “gigabit” speed broadband to all UK premises by 2025 if certain conditions are met.

  • Reuters

    PRESS DIGEST- Financial Times - Nov 7

    Tom Watson, deputy leader of Britain's Labour Party, said on Wednesday, he is standing down from both his frontline position and parliament at the forthcoming general election. UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has launched his general election campaign with a promise to deliver Brexit by January, to champion Britain's free market economy and to preside over a "moderate and compassionate" government. Britain's Virgin Media is ditching BT Group's mobile network for rival Vodafone Group Plc from late 2021 in a five-year deal that will allow it to launch new services such as 5G to its more than 3 million customers.

  • Britain's Virgin Media switches to Vodafone's mobile network
    Reuters

    Britain's Virgin Media switches to Vodafone's mobile network

    Britain's Virgin Media is ditching BT's mobile network for rival Vodafone from late 2021 in a five-year deal that will allow it to launch new services such as 5G to its more than 3 million customers. Virgin Media, which offers cable TV and broadband services, pioneered the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model, whereby a company offers own-branded mobile on an established partner's network. It has used BT's EE network for nearly 20 years, including before BT owned it, but its customers will be switched onto Vodafone's network in 2021 after the company won the new contract.

  • India Won’t Waive $13 Billion of Mobile-Phone Firms’ Dues
    Bloomberg

    India Won’t Waive $13 Billion of Mobile-Phone Firms’ Dues

    (Bloomberg) -- India won’t back down from collecting $13 billion of past dues from debt-laden telecom carriers because the industry is not under stress, a government official with knowledge of the matter said, a move that could deepen Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Vodafone Idea Ltd.’s financial woes.India expects the carriers to pay up within 90 days as ordered by the Supreme Court last month, the official said, asking not to be identified, as the discussions are private. A panel of top bureaucrats could look at deferred payment plan for some of the dues, the person said.The government’s stand about the health of the industry mirrors comments made by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which has said it has a “divergent view” from its rivals. High fees, frequent flip-flops and endless tax demands over the years have driven most operators aground. From over 10 operators few years ago, India has just three non-state players left with two of them saddled with a mountain of debt.Vodafone Group Plc’s Indian venture has $14 billion worth of obligations, while Bharti Airtel is rated junk by Moody’s Investors Service. “All telecom operators have asked for requisite help in reducing” the financial stress, Vodafone Idea said last month.The “extraordinary scenario” being shown is “just a machination to extract relief,” Reliance Jio said in a letter to the minister of communications on Oct. 31.Bharti Airtel’s shares fell 3.3% in Mumbai on Wednesday. Vodafone Idea lost 8.3% while Reliance Industries Ltd. slid 0.9%. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.6%.In the latest instance, the court ordered operators to pay dues using a disputed method for calculating the annual adjusted gross revenue, a share of which is paid as license and spectrum fees. It upheld the government’s method that includes income from non-telecom businesses like dividend from income and capital gains from the sale of assets while rejecting a plea to exclude them.Spectrum PaymentStill, the official said the government is working on a plan to reduce the license fee and providing a two-year moratorium on pending spectrum payments. The proposal will be sent to the finance ministry first before it is taken up by the cabinet, the official said, adding that this may happen in the current financial year.The telecom ministry spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests for a comment.A panel of senior government officials is examining feasibility of deferring payment for airwaves that are due by March 2021 and March 2022 as demanded by telecom companies, a government official told reporters last week. It will also consider the demand for reduction in spectrum usage levies and the Universal Service Obligation Fund charge.On the introduction of 5G airwaves, the official said there will be no delay in auction, which is due this financial year, and that the government isn’t presuming the telecom sector is under stress. The reserve price for 5G spectrum will not be lowered, he said.India has fallen behind China and some other countries in plans to introduce 5G, super fast networks seen as essential to developing factory automation, autonomous driving and other artificial intelligence applications.(Update with share performance in sixth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Ragini Saxena in Mumbai at rsaxena30@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Arijit Ghosh at aghosh@bloomberg.net, Unni Krishnan, Sam NagarajanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    Virgin Media to ditch BT mobile network for Vodafone

    Virgin Media is to transfer its 3m mobile customers to Vodafone’s network, calling time on its £200m-a-year deal with BT. The cable group currently uses BT’s mobile network EE in a contract that runs until 2021. Virgin will also launch 5G services via the Vodafone network before then.

  • Italy's INWIT still sees tower deal with Vodafone closing in first half next year
    Reuters

    Italy's INWIT still sees tower deal with Vodafone closing in first half next year

    INWIT, the mast group controlled by Telecom Italia , still expects to wrap up a deal with Vodafone to merge their tower infrastructure in Italy in the first part of next year, INWIT's head said on Tuesday. Last week Telecom Italia, INWIT and Vodafone agreed to postpone by a month to Nov.30 a deadline to get EU antitrust approval for the deal. "We're engaged in very constructive talks with the European antitrust", INWIT CEO Giovanni Ferigo said on a conference call with analysts.

  • India Is Gouging Its Wireless Carriers to Fill a Budget Hole
    Bloomberg

    India Is Gouging Its Wireless Carriers to Fill a Budget Hole

    (Bloomberg) -- When Arun Sarin, Vodafone Group Plc’s India-born former CEO, was charting the British telecommunications firm’s expansion into emerging markets in the mid-2000s, his home country with more than a billion potential phone users seemed a compelling choice.Sarin wasn’t alone. Norway’s Telenor ASA, Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems PJSC and Malaysia’s Maxis Bhd were also among a slew of companies that flocked to this fast-growing market. The carriers banded with local partners, bid for airwaves and licenses, spending billions of dollars to prepare their networks.But what once appeared to be their most-promising Asian wireless market has turned sour. Vodafone’s Indian venture with billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, saddled with $14 billion of debt, is said to be seeking to revamp its borrowings amid mounting losses and a tariff war. Tycoon Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. is rated junk by Moody’s Investors Service. In a market that had a dozen carriers two years ago, just three are left standing today -- two of them, barely.High fees, frequent policy flip-flops, endless tax demands from an unsympathetic bureaucracy that treated carriers as cash cows have driven most of the operators aground. The industry has become the latest cautionary tale for investors in India, showing why despite moving up the global rankings for ease of business, the burgeoning $2.7 trillion economy with a massive consumer base remains a tough, unpredictable place for those who still dare.The latest blow to the survivors came last week. The nation’s Supreme Court, ruling on a years-long dispute, ordered several carriers to pay the government an additional $13 billion in past fees. The British firm’s venture, Vodafone Idea Ltd., faces a bill of $4 billion, a burden that could sink the company.“The government is becoming greedy and extracting the maximum from them,” said Mohan Guruswamy, a former finance ministry official and now chairman of the Centre for Policy Alternatives in New Delhi. “The whole sector is in the doldrums. This judgment will effectively destroy Vodafone Idea, and what you’ll have is an emerging duopoly.”When India announced its New Telecom Policy in 1999, it said the industry was of “vital importance” with “widespread ramifications on the entire economy,” and vowed to create an “enabling framework for the development” of telecommunications.Record RakingWhile that worked in theory, policy makers also realized that the auction of airwaves and sale of licenses could fetch billions of dollars, a revenue source key to narrowing the government’s budget deficit. For instance, in a 2015 auction, India raised a record $18 billion, after getting almost $10 billion in the previous year. But in 2012, a plan to collect as much as 400 billion rupees ($7.3 billion at the then exchange rate) flopped as bidders balked, prompting it to cut prices later.Spectrum costs in India are among the highest in the world, according to data compiled by Analysys Mason Spectrum Tracker. The leading telecom operators in India pay the largest share of their aggregate revenue for airwaves at 7.6%, followed by Thailand at 7.3% and Bangladesh at 7%, according to Moody’s Investors Service.Driving Up CostsWhile the government set high prices, the carriers had themselves to blame too. Competition drove the operators to outbid each other at spectrum auctions, driving up their costs.As a result, companies took on billions of dollars in debt to stay in the game even as competition among a dozen operators for a slice of the market drove down tariffs to less than a cent, weighing on their earnings. Then came Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. in 2016, offering free calls and cheap data on its 4G network, backed by the deep pockets of billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-petrochemicals empire.Jio’s entry shook up the industry that was already hobbling.In the past two years, two of India’s larger telecom operators -- Malaysian tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan’s Aircel Ltd., and Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications Ltd. -- went into bankruptcy. Vodafone’s India unit announced its merger with Birla’s Idea Cellular Ltd. in 2017 to take on Jio, but it has reported losses every quarter since.“The Indian telecom market had three major challenges,” said Sanjay Kapoor, former CEO of Bharti Airtel’s India and South Asia operations and now a director on the board of Saudi Telecom Co. “Intense competition, high cost structure with exorbitant spectrum prices coupled with government charges and lowest average revenue per user.”But there were other equally daunting hurdles too. Some examples of policy flip-flops here:A decade after its struggle in India, Newbury, England-based Vodafone Group has one foot out the door. CEO Nick Read said in September that the company isn’t keen to plow any more money into the local venture, in which Vodafone holds about 44%. A Vodafone Group spokesman declined to comment for this story, while Idea said Thursday that it isn’t aware if its British partner is looking to exit India.Former Vodafone CEO Sarin didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.Warned LendersVodafone Idea has approached creditors for better terms, including a temporary halt to payments, and has warned lenders it won’t be able to honor its commitments for long under current conditions, people with direct knowledge of the matter said. The company denied making such a move, but said “all telecom operators have asked for requisite help in reducing” the financial stress. Shares of Vodafone Idea have tumbled 81% this year following a 65% slump in 2018.Following the Supreme Court ruling on the extra fees, Bharti Airtel deferred its quarterly earnings announcement by two weeks to Nov. 14. Fitch Ratings said Oct. 30 that it’s placed Bharti on negative watch at BBB-, the lowest investment grade.The court order is the “last straw,” the Cellular Operators Association of India said last week, while Bharti and Vodafone Idea urged the government to address their concerns and mitigate their financial stress.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said this week that it is considering some relief measures. A panel of senior bureaucrats will look into steps including deferment of airwaves payments that are due by March 2021 and 2022.“The government on its end is in a difficult position where if it lets Vodafone Idea fail, it will lead to a duopoly, which is not the healthiest market structure for any country,” said Rohan Dhamija, head of South Asia and Middle East at Analysys Mason. “We, hence, feel that the government might step in with subtle help for the sector.”(Updates with Vodafone Idea’s stock decline in 2019)\--With assistance from Bibhudatta Pradhan, Dave McCombs and Thomas Seal.To contact the reporters on this story: P R Sanjai in Mumbai at psanjai@bloomberg.net;Ragini Saxena in Mumbai at rsaxena30@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sam Nagarajan at samnagarajan@bloomberg.net, Bhuma ShrivastavaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • GlobeNewswire

    Vodafone Business and América Móvil Announce Internet of Things Partnership

    Vodafone Business and América Móvil, two of the world's leading Internet of Things (IoT) service providers, announced today an IoT partnership, that makes it easier than ever for customers to connect devices globally. The agreement will make it simpler and more efficient for IoT customers of both companies to deploy international IoT solutions by combining their respective IoT platforms and their expertise in IoT connectivity and services.