Aditya Birla Group (ABG) Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla has stepped down as non-executive chairman of Vodafone Idea (Vi) after offering to give up his stake in the debt-ridden telecommunications (telecom) company.
In his letter written on June 7, Birla said he was willing to offer his stake to any government or domestic financial entity to keep Vi afloat.
“It is with a sense of duty towards 270 million Indians connected by Vi, I am more than willing to hand over my stake in the company to any entity: public sector/government/domestic financial entity, or any other that the government may consider worthy of keeping the company as a going concern,” wrote Birla.
Vodafone Idea, Vi since last year, has been under stress, losing market share, while its huge Rs 1.8 trillion debt liability has raised concerns about its survival. The company’s efforts to raise Rs 25,000 crore from investors have not yielded result, in the absence of any relief measures from the government. The Supreme Court, too, has ruled against its application for recomputation of AGR dues, dealing a blow to its revival.
Himanshu Kapania, a telecom industry veteran and a nominee of Aditya Birla Group on the board, will now take over the chairman’s post. Kapania served on the global GSMA board for two years and was also chairman of the Cellular Operators Association of India. Birla Group Chief Financial Officer Sushil Agarwal has also been named additional director on the Vi board.