KM Birla steps down as Vodafone Idea chairman; stock slides 38% in 3 days

Shares of Vodafone Idea (Vi) tanked 15 per cent at Rs 5.13, hitting a fresh 52-week low on the BSE in the intra-day trade on Thursday, after telecom major announced that Kumar Mangalam Birla will step down as non-executive director and non-executive chairman at a time when Vi is struggling to stay afloat.

The changes to the board will come into effect from close of business hours on August 4, 2021. Himanshu Kapania, a nominee of the Aditya Birla Group, has been appointed as the non-executive chairman.

“The Board of Directors of Vodafone Idea Limited, at its meeting held today, have accepted the request of Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla to step down as Non-Executive Director and Non Executive Chairman of the Board with effect from close of business hours on 4th August, 2021,” Vodafone Idea said in exchange filing on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

Consequently, the Board has unanimously elected Mr. Himanshu Kapania, currently a Non Executive Director, as the Non-Executive Chairman. Mr. Kapania, a nominee of the Aditya Birla Group, is a telecom industry veteran with 25 years of experience, the company said.

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With today’s fall, the stock of the telecom services provider has tanked 34 per cent in 3 days. The stock has been in the downtrend ever since reports suggested Kumar Mangalam Birla has told the government that he is willing to give up promoter stake in the company and Vodafone Group Plc has ruled out any further equity infusion in its debt-ridden telecom joint venture in India.

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The stock was trading at the lowest level since May 2020. It had hit a record low of Rs 2.61 in November 2019. Till 09:24 am, a combined 102 million shares had changed hands and there were pending sell orders for 95 million shares on the NSE and BSE.


Meanwhile, according to a Business Standard report, Vodafone Plc, which owns 45 per cent stake in Vi, is ready to offer its stake for free to Indian banks/financial institutions or to the government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), provided they take over the wireless telephony company.

Lenders said if BSNL takes over the company, government dues to be paid by the merged BSNL-Vi entity will be a book entry.

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