Vodafone Idea on Wednesday posted a massive consolidated net loss of Rs 4,974 crore for the July-September quarter, underlining once again the financial stress the telecom operators are undergoing due to below-cost tariff which is leading to customers migrating to lower average realisation per user (Arpu) offerings.
Vodafone and Idea, which completed their merger on August 31, said that the earnings for the September quarter includes results for Idea Cellular up to August 30, and Vodafone Idea from August 31 to September 30, and hence are not comparable to earlier periods. The company said the figures for revenue, Ebitda and key performance indicators for Q1 and Q2 FY19 are pro-forma figures and presented as if Vodafone Idea was a merged entity from April 1, 2018.
Accordingly, revenue during the quarter at Rs 12,024 crore was down 7.1% sequentially, while Ebitda at Rs 980 crore was down 28.7%. Margin at 8.1% was lower than 10.6% in the preceding quarter.
The company said that though headline tariffs remained stable during the quarter with customers moving to lower bundled offers, Arpu dropped to Rs 88, down 4.7% compared to the preceding quarter. This is the lowest compared to Jio’s Rs 131.7 and Bharti’s Rs 101. The company also lost 13 million customers during the quarter.
While at the time of merger there was no announcement on fund raising, the company on Wednesday said that the board of directors has established a committee of board members to evaluate a potential capital raise of up to Rs 25,000 crore. Of this, the promoter shareholders, Vodafone Group and Aditya Birla Group have indicated that they would contribute up to Rs 18,250 crore — Vodafone Rs 11,000 crore and AV Birla Rs 7,250 crore.
“The committee will be evaluating various options including, but not limited to, a rights issue, qualified institutional placement and/or a preferential share issue. It is currently expected that any capital raise, if approved, is expected to complete in Q4 FY2019,” the company said.
Additionally, a company statement said that Vodafone Idea has decided to actively explore potential sale of its fibre network assets consisting of over 1.56 lakh km of intra- and inter-city fibre routes in order to provide further balance sheet flexibility, and several parties have indicated a potential interest in acquiring these.
On key operating metrics, the data volumes for Vodafone Idea increased by a good 20% q-o-q to 22,60,000 million megabytes, though remained much below Bharti Airtel’s 26,60,297 million MB and almost a third of Reliance Jio.
Commenting on the performance, Balesh Sharma, CEO Vodafone Idea, said, “We have set on a strong course with meticulous pre-merger planning and rigorous post-merger execution. In just 75 days of operations, several milestones have been achieved, ahead of expected timeline. We are thus well on track to deliver the synergies envisaged at the time of merger. Shareholders’ support along with assets monetization puts us into a strong position to achieve our strategic intent”.
Vodafone Idea’s gross debt as on September 30, 2018 was Rs 1.26 lakh crore. The cash & equivalents was Rs 13,600 crore, resulting in a net debt of nearly Rs 1.13 lakh crore.