Bharti Airtel posted a massive loss in its fiscal third quarter after setting aside funds to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government, halting a budding mobile recovery spurred by higher tariffs.
The operator reported a net loss of INR10.35 billion ($145 million) in the three months to end-December 2019, compared with a profit of INR860 million in the comparable period of 2018.
Consolidated revenue increased 8.5 per cent year-on-year to INR219 billion, driven by brisk mobile growth in India and Africa.
The operator owes the Indian government INR356 billion following a ruling from the Supreme Court which said AGR should cover all revenue, including non-telecoms related activities. Bharti Airtel already recorded an exceptional loss of INR285 billion its fiscal Q2 related to licence fees and spectrum usage charges.
Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO for India and South Asia, said: “While tariff revision undertaken in December 2019 is a welcome step towards repairing the financial health of the industry, we believe tariffs must go up further for enabling the industry to invest in emerging technologies.”
He added it is on track to close its 3G network across India and refarm the 900MHz and 2100MHz bands to boost its 4G footprint, to meet surging demand for high-speed data.
Revenue from its India operations increased 6.9 per cent to INR158 billion, with mobile turnover growing 13.4 per cent to INR114 billion. The company said the growth was led by a focus on quality customers, mobile plan upgrades and gains from recent tariff hikes, although the full impact of the increases is yet to be seen.
Its subscriber base remained at 308.7 million, but its 4G customers increased 60.6 per cent to 123.8 million. ARPU jumped nearly 30 per cent to INR128. Data usage per customer rose to 13.9GB from 10.5GB.
Africa revenue increased 14 per cent to $896 million, driven by a 41.3 per cent jump in data revenue to $247 million. Voice turnover rose 6 per cent to $513 million.
It added 9 million subscribers, ending December with 107 million. ARPU increased 3.5 per cent to $2.80.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back