Vodafone Idea reduced its losses in fiscal Q1 2022 (ending 30 June) despite declines in mobile subscribers and ARPU, as the troubled operator pushed a cost-control strategy.

In a statement, MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar said a severe second wave of Covid-19 (coronavirus) caused significant disruptions and slowdown in economic activities.

The company aims to achieve INR40 billion ($539.6 million) in annualised opex savings by the end of December, he said: “our cost optimisation plan remains on track to deliver the targeted savings. We are in active discussion with potential investors for fundraising”.

Net loss dropped from INR254.6 billion in fiscal Q1 2021 to INR73.2 billion. Revenue fell 14.2 per cent to INR91.5 billion as its mobile subscriber base declined 8.7 per cent to 255.4 million and blended ARPU reduced 8.8 per to INR104.

LTE subscribers rose 7.9 per cent to 112.9 million. Average data usage was up 13.9 per cent to 14.9GB a month.

Gross debt excluding lease liabilities at end-June totalled INR1.9 trillion, comprising deferred spectrum payment obligations of INR1.1 trillion, AGR liability of INR621.8 billion and bank debt of INR234 billion.

Capex rose to INR9.4 billion from INR6 billion. The number of broadband sites declined to about 447,000 as it closed 10,000 3G sites.

In early July, the operator warned a weak fiscal Q4 2021 would impact its ability to pay down debt.

The company’s chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla resigned in early August, days after saying his company Aditya Birla Group was willing to offload its near 28 per cent stake to keep Vodafone Idea afloat.