Bharti Airtel sees revenues rise but profit fall

Indian operator Bharti Airtel saw its net profit fall 29 per cent year-on-year to INR10bn from INR14bn ($189m), during its fiscal fourth quarter of 2011.  This is despite seeing its revenue grow 15 per cent to INR187.3bn, up from INR162.9bn a year earlier.

The firm blamed extra costs for its 3G roll-out, and tax and forex charges for the decline in profit. Revenue growth in the fourth quarter was fuelled by increased customer additions and a significant increase in call times in India. Revenues from Africa continued to growth, despite a national strike in Nigeria, which lasted nine days.

The operator ended March with a total 241.15 million mobile customers, up 13.8 per cent from a year earlier. Compared to its third quarter, which ended in December, the customer base in Africa rose 4.3 per cent to 53.14 million, and subscribers in India and south Asia increased 3.3 per cent to 188.01 million.

“I am pleased that the year has ended with the Company’s customer base crossing 250 million across 20 countries, the twentieth country being Rwanda,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director. “Our launch of 4G LTE, the first in India, is testimony to our commitment to the broadband agenda.”

He added that the recent regulatory developments in India, which have seen the Supreme Court cancel 2G licences following a corruption scandal, with a new auction due to be held this year at much higher rates, will  have significant implications on the future of telephony and broadband, as well as India’s global competitiveness.

“The entire industry looks to the government for a fair, transparent and sustainable telecom regime,” Mittal added.

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