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Airtel Bharti reports 61% profit jump on back of easing competition

Tuesday, 29 July 2014 - 7:41pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: AFP
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India's top mobile phone firm, Bharti Airtel, on Tuesday reported a nearly 61 % jump in quarterly profit from a year earlier, helped by easing competition and a wider customer base.

Bharti, the fourth-largest cellular firm globally by subscribers, said in a statement consolidated net profit for the financial quarter to June climbed to 11.08 billion rupees ($184 million), compared with 6.89 billion rupees a year earlier.

Revenue jumped 13.3 % to 229.6 billion rupees.

The profit increase marked a third straight quarter of earnings growth after Bharti clocked nearly four consecutive years of decline.

But the company's African operations, purchased as part of Bharti's bold move four years ago to increase its global footprint, racked up more losses.

Net loss for the telecom giant's African business was $137 million from April to June, compared to $52 million in the corresponding period last year.

The figures come a day after the company announced that it now had 300 million customers, an increase of 100 million in less than two years.

The company, controlled by billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal and one-third owned by Singapore Telecommunications, operates in 20 countries.

Managing director Gopal Vittal said that the pace of growth "across all segments has been satisfying" but highlighted a 68.2 % growth in revenues from mobile data, according to the Press Trust of India.

Fierce tariff competition had pushed Indian call rates down to among the world's lowest. But a 2012 court ruling scrapping licences of some smaller firms over a scandal-tainted spectrum sale, reduced congestion and gave firms scope to raise call prices.

The number of telecoms players has fallen with just three firms -- Bharti, Vodafone and Idea Cellular -- accounting for nearly three-quarters of revenues and both Bharti and Vodafone bought more wireless spectrum in February to expand service.

The biggest danger for Indian telecom players now, analysts say, is the looming entry of a new deep-pocketed rival, Reliance Jio Infocomm belonging to conglomerate Reliance Industries, controlled by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani.




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