Vodafone Idea, the joint-venture of British telco Vodafone and India’s Aditya Birla Group, is one of the three largest telcos in the country by subscriber count, but owes the Indian government’s Department of Telecom (DoT) INR500 billion (€5.76 billion) as a part of a collective INR920 billion (€11.67 billion) sum owed by it and two other leading operators.
As such, the telco has been seeking big-money foreign investors and, according to the Mint newspaper, Verizon and Amazon are apparently two such parties considering a move.
India, as one of the largest populations on earth, has historically gone unnoticed by the big US players in video and telecommunications, but has of late emerged as a battleground for companies seeking to tap into a new revenue stream.
The news of potential interest from Amazon and Verizon has somewhat convenient timing, coming two days after the country’s Supreme Court gave some room on the DoT’s previous ruling, and said that all indebted mobile carriers must settle their dues within 10 years. This ruling came after Vodafone Idea successfully argued that focusing on paying these debts could cause it to struggle to continue its business.
In May, it was reported that Google was also looking at picking up a stake in the telco. Its potential investment however was much more modest, looking at a 5% stake in the company for US$110 million.
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