Fears for Vodafone's dividend after the shares collapse while it is struggling with a debt amount of £ 46bn

Vodafone faces a battle to protect its 3.5 billion pound dividend as it struggles with debt, expensive network investments and price wars.

The telecommunications group is under pressure to clarify how it will maintain its payments after launching a European acquisition of Liberty Global's cable business, a move that brought its debt to around £ 46 billion.

It also spent 2.1 billion pounds on the purchase of radio waves for 5G services in Italy, in an auction that proved to be much more expensive than expected by industry figures.

Vodafone is under pressure to clarify how it will maintain its payments after launching an acquisition of European Liberty Global cable business

Analysts have raised doubts about its growth prospects, warning the company to face intense price competition in Italy, Spain and India.

From the start of the year, the share price fell more than 38% to its nine-year lows, canceling £ 24 billion from its value.

The veteran of the company Nick Read, who took the place of the former head Vittorio Colao last month, will present his first quarterly results as CEO on Tuesday.

It is expected to establish its vision for the group, including how it will benefit from the Liberty Global business, while continuing to cut costs and extract money from asset sales.

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

However, talks with management on this proved to be frustrating, added the investor.

Vodafone veteran Nick Read will present his first quarterly results as head of the executive on Tuesday

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

Analysts have warned Vodafone that he has to make tough decisions if he wants to protect the dividend, which the company has not cut since he paid one in 1990.

But in a note, JP Morgan claimed that a cut could make sense if the company wants to quickly pay off debts and asset sales and cost cutting failed to raise enough money.

Russ Mold, director of investment at the AJ Bell broker, added: "Concern for the dividend is one of the reasons why Vodafone's shares have been such a horror this year. cash, but what scared people is the Liberty Global agreement. "

"They are watching him and they say," You've already had a lot of debts and now you're going to take it even higher, and at a time when general debt costs do not go up. "

Speaking to investors in September, Read dismissed fears about the dividend and asked the company to have the cash flow to support it.

He explained that Vodafone will aim to deliver cash flow of around £ 15 billion over three years, with about £ 10.5 billion taken from dividend payments and £ 4.5 billion left free to spend on the radio waves needed for 5G mobile networks next generation.

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

Speaking in New York, Read told investors: "We are confident in the dividend policy that we have and that remains the case.

"We made the Liberty Global transaction, and then we said that we will have leveraged over time, through two levers, one is the expansion of earnings, and the other is the disposition of goods."

He said that the activities that could be sold included the company's trees and signal towers.

The shares closed 2.1% or 3.16 p, lower than 143.92 p.

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