The Indian Supreme Court said Vodafone must pay INR20 billion ($300 million) to merge a number of its business units, as the operator plans a long-awaited IPO of its local operation.
The court said Vodafone must deposit the sum with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in return for a merger licence to consolidate six of its business units in India, said Economic Times.
Vodafone’s final liability will be settled by various cases currently in the lower courts.
The operator announced earlier this month it had started preparations for its Indian IPO. It previously considered an IPO in 2012 but called a halt to plans following a tax dispute with the Indian government and various regulatory problems.
The DoT previously asked Vodafone for INR69 billion, covering spectrum and regulatory charges, but the company contested the claim at the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). In late October, that body ruled in favour of Vodafone, on the proviso that Vodafone agreed to pay fees set by the lower courts.
The DoT fought the TDSAT order in the Supreme Court which decided on the INR20 billion based on an earlier letter to DoT in which Vodafone offered to pay INR18 billion as an interim measure to move the merger process forward, while reserving the right to challenge it later.
As part of the original 2012 IPO plans, the company proposed to merge Vodafone East, Vodafone South, Vodafone Cellular and Vodafone Digilink with Vodafone Mobile Services, a holding company. In addition, it planned to merge Vodafone West and Vodafone Spacetel with Vodafone Mobile Services.