Vodafone warns on Indian tax bill


7 Apr 2011
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Vodafone, the UK-listed telecommunications company, has warned that it faces a doubling of the $2.5 billion tax bill it is contesting in India’s Supreme Court.

Andy Halford, chief financial officer, said on Wednesday night that the Indian authorities had threatened to impose penalties for non-payment that could raise its outstanding tax liability to $5 billion.

The Indian authorities are pursuing Vodafone for tax that they maintain is due on its 2007 acquisition of Hutchison Essar, a fast-growing Indian mobile operator, for $10.9 billion. Halford said that Vodafone was in an “invidious position”. He added: “[The bill] is either $2.5 billion or it could be double that if we take extreme [scenarios]. We’ve done a lot of M&A and this has never happened. We are not making any moves until this is resolved.” Vodafone has set aside $2.5 billion in an escrow account in the event that the Supreme Court rules against it before the end of the year.
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