The Indian government will convert debt owed by Vodafone Idea (Vi) into equity in the troubled telco before the commencement of the country’s multi-band 5G spectrum, which is scheduled to start on 26 July. According to the Financial Express, the timing of the move is designed to pave the way for the operator to fully participate in the frequency sale. The conversion of debt into equity will be done under Section 62 (4) of the Companies Act. Vi will issue shares to the government on a preferential basis, and they will be held by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).
After the INR161.3 billion (USD2.09 billion) debt is converted into equity the government will hold a 32% stake in Vi, while the stake of the company’s promoters, which includes UK’s Vodafone Group and India’s Aditya Birla Group, will be diluted from the existing 75% to 50%. The government has informed the telco that the stake will be treated as ‘public shareholding’ and it will neither participate in the management of the company, nor seek board representation.