S&P Global has kept Bharti Airtel’s rating on negative watch, citing that the Rs 343 billion adjusted gross revenue (AGR) setback may decisively weaken the operator’s leverage.

Airtel has been directed by the Supreme Court (SC) to clear the dues by January 22, subject to an audit and confirmation from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Meanwhile, the telco’s decision to hike tariffs by 15-45 per cent effective December 3, may temper the impact of the court ruling, S&P said. As per S&P Global, the tariff hike may increase the company’s reported revenue and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for its India mobile services business by 20-22 per cent and 26-30 per cent, respectively.

S&P further added that Airtel’s move to raise $2 billion in equity and $1 billion through a combination of foreign currency convertible bonds, redeemable nonconvertible debentures with warrants, or similar instruments could help it to fund the lawsuit payout.