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Bharti Airtel profit down 9.6 percent in 14th quarterly fall

Indian telco books a profit of US$113 billion in Q1 on higher costs and foreign exchange losses, despite revenue rising 9.2 percent year-on-year.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Bharti Airtel reported a 9.6 percent drop in net income for its quarter ending June 30, 2013 on higher costs and foreign exchange losses. 

In its Q1 earnings released on Wednesday, the Indian carrier's net income was at 6.89 billion rupees (US$113 million), from 7.82 billion rupees (US$129 million) a year ago. This is the 14th consecutive quarter of decline in net profit for India's largest telecom operator by subscriber base. 

The telco's revenue however, rose 9.2 percent year-on-year to 202.6 billion rupees (US$3.34 billion). 

While average revenue per user (ARPU) in India rose 4 percent from the previous quarter to 200 rupees (US$3.29), its Africa ARPU fell 7 percent to US$5.50. Bharti Airtel had ventured into Africa in 2010 with a US$9 billion acquisiton of Zain Telecom, but has yet to make the operations profitable. Its African operations reported a net loss of 7.03 billion rupees (US$116 million). 

During the quarter, Bharti Airtel also repaid 67.96 billion rupees (US$1.12 billion) of debts by selling a 5 percent stake to the Qatar Foundation Endowment. This quarter, its total debt stood at US$9.78 billion, from US$10.7 billion in the previous quarter. 

"Results for Airtel India reflect rationality returning to the sector which needs to be complemented by a more enabling regulatory environment for a deeper penetration of telecom and broadband services," Sunil Mittal, Bharti Airtel's chairman said in a statement.

In early May, Airtel and its main rivals such as Vodafone and Idea Cellular raised their charges following the exit of smaller rivals and a prolonged period of intense tariff competition.

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