business

Fear of Vodafone dividend after collapse of stocks as it struggles with £ 46bn debt stack

Fear of Vodafone dividend after collapse of stocks as it struggles with £ 46bn debt stack

Vodafone faces a fight to protect the £ 3.5 billion dividend when it struggles with debt, expensive network investments and price wars.

The telecom group is under pressure to explain how it will maintain its disbursements after the launch of a takeover of Liberty Global's European cable assets, a move that has brought its debt to around £ 46 billion.

It also spent just £ 2.1 billion on buying ether waves for 5G services in Italy, at an auction that proved to be much more expensive than the industrial figures expected.

Vodafone is under pressure to explain how it will maintain its payouts after the launch of Liberty Global's European cable assets

Vodafone is under pressure to explain how it will maintain its payouts after the launch of Liberty Global's European cable assets

Vodafone is under pressure to explain how it will maintain its payouts after the launch of Liberty Global's European cable assets

Analysts have expressed doubts about their growth prospects and warn that the company is facing intense price competition in Italy, Spain and India.

Since the beginning of the year, the share price has dropped more than 38 percent to the lowest point of nine years and wiped £ 24bn of its value.

Company veteran Nick Read, who took over the former boss Vittorio Colao last month, will present his first quarter results as chief executive on Tuesday.

He is expected to explain his vision for the group, including how he will benefit from the Liberty Global deal, continue to cut costs and raise money from the sale of assets.

One investor told the Mail that there were questions about whether Vodafone would continue to pay its current dividend.

The consultation with the management, however, proved frustrating, the investor added.

Vodafone veteran Nick Read will present his first quarter results as chief exec on Tuesday

Vodafone veteran Nick Read will present his first quarter results as chief exec on Tuesday

Vodafone veteran Nick Read will present his first quarter results as chief exec on Tuesday

The Vodafone dividend has long made the company attractive to British savers who have benefited from a steady stream of income.

Analysts have warned that Vodafone is facing difficult decisions if it wants to protect the dividend that the company has not issued since it paid a dividend for the first time in 1990.

But in a note JP Morgan argued that a cut could be useful if the company wants to pay off debts quickly and that the sale of assets and cost savings have not raised enough money.

Russ Mold, investment director at broker AJ Bell, added: "Concern about the dividend is one of the reasons why Vodafone shares have been so horrible this year. The company points to cash flow, but what scared people is the Liberty Global deal. & # 39;

& # 39; They look at it and say: & # 39; You already had a lot of debts and that is going to make it even higher now, and in a time when the general borrowing costs do not fall & # 39;. & # 39;

In September, Read spoke against fear of the dividend and claimed that the company had the cash flow to support it.

He explained that Vodafone would aim for a cash flow of nearly £ 15 billion in three years, with around £ 10.5 billion through dividend payments and £ 4.5 billion free to spend on radio waves required for the 5G mobile networks of the next generation.

However, the company says it only expects an annual release of just over £ 1 billion on 5G spectrum, or about £ 3.1 billion during the period.

In New York, Read spoke to investors: "We have confidence in the dividend policy that we have and that remains the case.

& # 39; We have made the Liberty Global transaction. Then we said that in the course of time we will use the leverage via two levers. One of these is the expansion of income; and the other is asset sales. & # 39;

He said that assets that could be sold were the signal poles and towers of the company.

Shares closed 2.1 percent or 3.16p, lower at 143.92p.

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