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Bharti Airtel Q2 Profit Plunges 77% On Price Wars Involving Reliance Jio

Profit fell to Rs 343 crore in the quarter ended Sept. 30 from Rs 1,461 crore a year earlier.

as they sit on a railing with Bharti Airtel billboards installed on it, along a sidewalk in Kolkata.(REUTERS)

NEW DELHI – The country’s largest telecom company Bharti Airtel on Tuesday posted 76.5 per cent plunge in consolidated net profit to Rs 343 crore for the September quarter, hit by disruptive pricing of newcomer Reliance Jio and the resulting tariff war.

It had posted net profit of Rs 1,461 crore for the July- September quarter of last fiscal.

Airtel’s total revenue fell 11.7 per cent to Rs 21,777 crore during the second quarter of 2017-18, from Rs 24,651.50 crore in the year-ago period.

“The financial stress in the industry continues due to double digit revenue decline and will be further accentuated by the reduction in IUC (Interconnect Usage charges) rates in the next quarter,” Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

This will eventually force operator consolidation and exits as the industry has witnessed in the recent past, he added.

“Airtel remains committed to its goal of increasing revenue market share in this competitive environment by providing superior customer experience and strategically investing behind building more data capacities,” Vittal said.

The consolidated revenues for just-ended quarter, at Rs 21,777 crore, represented a year on year drop of 10.4 per cent (reported drop of 11.7 per cent) on an underlying basis (that is adjusted for Africa and Bangladesh divested operating units and tower assets sale), Airtel said.

India revenues for the September quarter at Rs 16,728 crore have declined by 13 per cent over the year ago period, led by mobile drop of 16.8 per cent.

“Mobile market continues to experience value erosion and financial stress led by competitive pressures,” the company added.

Bharti Airtel along with other established telecom firms has been engaged in a fierce tariff war with Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Jio.

Over the past few quarters, Bharti Airtel has been blaming the “pricing disruption” in the Indian telecom market caused by the Jio entry for the declining industry revenues and stress on sector profitability, cash flows and leverage.

The company’s consolidated net debt rose to Rs 91,480 crore against Rs 87,840 crore in the previous quarter.

The company said it had “stepped up” the capex investments in the quarter on the back of data coverage and capacity.

Net debt excluding the deferred payment liabilities to the Telecom Department and finance lease obligations increased by Rs 2,554 crore sequentially in the quarter, the company added.

Bharti Airtel’s net interest costs increased to Rs 1,905 crore compared to Rs 1,603 crore in the same quarter last year on account of lower investment income.

“The forex and derivative loss for the quarter was at Rs 422 crore compared to loss of Rs 302 crore in the corresponding quarter last year,” it said.

The shares of the company closed at Rs 497.65 a piece, up by 0.98 per cent over the previous close on BSE. The second quarter earnings announcement came in after market hours.

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