Could Google be Vodafone Idea’s saviour?

Published: 28 May 2020 - 12:20 p.m.

US web giant Google is exploring the possibility of acquiring a stake in cash strapped Indian telco, Vodafone Idea, according to reports in the press.

A report by news agency Reuters says that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was exploring the possibility of acquiring a 5 per cent stake in Vodafone Idea for an unspecified amount.

The speculation comes weeks after social media giant Facebook acquired a 9.99 per cent stake in India’s biggest telco, Reliance Jio, for $5.7 billion.

The cash injection would come as a welcome reprieve for Vodafone Idea, which has seen its share price plummet since its parent companies, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, merged in July 2018.

At the time of the merger, Vodafone Idea was ranked as the largest mobile network operator in the country, claiming over 330 million subscribers. However, it has since relinquished that position to Reliance Jio and has been subsequently beaten into third place by Bharti Airtel.

Vodafone Idea is struggling under the weight of a mounting debt pile, which has been exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s Adjusted Growth Revenue (AGR) ruling late last year, which inflicted several billions of dollars of new debt onto the company. Since then, Vodafone Group has infused an additional $200 million into the joint venture, to help it meet its short term financial obligations.

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