Encouraging signs on regulatory front: Vodafone Group CEO

Vodafone IndiaVodafone is fighting a legal battle with Indian govt on the tax liability case. (AP)

Calling itself a long term player in India, UK-based Vodafone Group has said the country is moving in the right direction on the regulatory front though issues like spectrum usage charges and the tax case were still a concern for the company.

"There has been a very challenging regulatory phase I hope that now the country is getting it right...I think Vodafone will be here for 20, 30 or 50 or 100 years, I don't know how long...this is a good market for us," Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said during his recent visit to India.

Colao said there are some encouraging signs on the regulatory front and the Empowered Group of Ministers' (EgoM) recent decisions were in right direction, which is sending a positive message about the country.

The EGoM on December 3 cleared the much awaited merger and acquisitions (M&A) guidelines for the telecom sector and also decided on the quantum of 2G spectrum to be auctioned in January 2014.

He, however, said some issues still need clarification.

"Not completely...we have to get some spectrum usage charges clarifications, we have the tax case which is still there, we need to get the approval for our FIPB transactions, so there are several things," he said when asked if there is clarity on the regulatory front now.

Vodafone is fighting a legal battle with the Indian government on the tax liability case.

It is facing a tax liability of over Rs 11,200 crore, along with interest, on its 2007 acquisition of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa's stake in India's telecom major, Hutchison Essar.

The company's application to increase its stake to 100 per cent in its local unit is also likely to be taken up by Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) on December 9.

Asked about the plans of coming out with an initial public offering (IPO) for its Indian unit, Colao said, "Once all these things are clarified, we would definitely consider an IPO, don't ask for a date."

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