Reliance Communications (RCom), India’s number-two mobile operator, reported its 14th straight quarter of lower net profit in Q4 2011, as the heavily indebted firm struggled with rising costs and impairment charges.

Net profit for the quarter declined 61 percent to INR1.86 billion (US$38 million) from INR4.80 billion a year earlier, while revenue fell 1.8 percent to INR47.37 billion – both below market expectations. Analysts in a Dow Jones Newswires poll had forecast a net profit of INR2.05 billion on revenue of INR52.17 billion

Meanwhile, Dow Jones Newswires notes that financial charges in the quarter jumped nearly threefold to INR3.78 billion, while total expenses rose more than 1 percent to INR44.19 billion. The financial charges include impairment charges on RCom's 3G bandwidth acquired in 2010.

RCom’s debt stood at INR367.68 billion at the end of September 2011, and the operator is currently looking to sell-off its towers business to pay down some of this debt. Talks to sell a majority stake in the telecom tower unit are progressing well, the firm said on a earnings call, without elaborating. In December, Dow Jones Newswires reported that private-equity firms Carlyle and Blackstone are in talks to buy a majority stake in the unit.

According to Wireless Intelligence estimates, RCom hit 150 million Indian mobile subscribers at year-end 2011, second only to Bharti Airtel (175 million).