Bharti Airtel copes with Jio despite profit decline

Impacted by freebies from new operator Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel fell for fourth straight quarter, with a 76.5 per cent plunge. India's largest mobile operator by subscribers has posted a consolidated net profit of Rs343 crore for the quarter ended 30 September compared with Rs1,461 crore recorded during the same period a year ago.

The New Delhi-headquartered company's consolidated second quarter revenues fell 11.7 per cent to Rs21,777 crore, down from Rs24,652 crore recorded during the same period a year ago.

''The financial stress in the industry continues due to double-digit revenue decline and will be further accentuated by the reduction in Interconnect Usage Charge rates in the next quarter. This will eventually force operator consolidation and exits as we have witnessed in the recent past,'' said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel.

The company's consolidated mobile data traffic stood at 853 million MBs in the quarter, a 293.8 per cent growth.

India revenues for reporting quarter stood at Rs 16,728 crore, a 13 per cent year-on-year fall mobile drop of 16.8 per cent Y-o-Y.

Mobile market continues to experience value erosion and financial stress led by competitive pressures. Mobile data traffic has grown four-fold to 784 billion MBs in the quarter as compared with 178 billion MBs in the corresponding quarter last year.

Mobile broadband customers increased by 33.6 per cent to 55.2 million from 41.3 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

The company's consolidated net debt has increased to Rs 91,480 crore from Rs 87,840 crore in the previous quarter. Capex investments stepped up in the quarter behind both data coverage and capacity.

Net debt excluding the deferred payment liabilities to the DOT and finance lease obligations has increased by Rs 2,554 crore sequentially in the quarter.

In constant currency terms, Africa underlying revenues grew by 2.8 per cent Y-o-Y. Mobile data traffic has grown by 83.8 per cent to 63 billion MBs in the quarter as compared with 34 billion MBs in the corresponding quarter last year.

Data customers increased by 20.1 per cent to 21.7 million from 18.1 million in the corresponding quarter last year. Our continuous cost control initiatives have resulted in significant improvement of underlying EBITDA margin by 9.1 per cent Y-o-Y and at 32.1 per cent.

Active Airtel Money customer base at 9.5 million, increasing the total transaction value on Airtel Money platform by 31.1 per cent to $ 4.9 billion.