Mumbai: Bharti Airtel Ltd, India's top telecoms operator, reported its smallest profit in 18 quarters as a price war sparked by an upstart carrier weighed on earnings.
Profit on a consolidated basis, which includes Bharti's Africa operations and its Indian satellite TV business among others, fell 75 percent to 3.67 billion rupees ($57.01 million) in the three months to June 30, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The profit, the lowest since December 2012, came in above analyst estimates of 3.35 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data. The pricing disruption in the Indian telecom market caused by the entry of a new operator has led to industry revenue declines and created further stress on sector profitability, cash flows and leverage, said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India & South Asia, said in a company statement.
Revenue fell 14 percent to 219.58 billion rupees while revenue from India dropped 10 percent to 172.44 billion rupees.
Reliance Jio, backed by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, has shaken India's telecoms industry since it was launched a year ago by offering months of free services and sharply discounted plans, battering the fortunes of established rivals such as Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular. The stiff competition has triggered consolidation in the industry, with Vodafone Group Plc's Indian unit and Idea Cellular opting to merge, and Bharti taking over operations of Norwegian Telenor in six Indian states. Jio, the telecoms arm of Reliance Industries, announced last week a low-cost 4G-enabled phone to woo tens of millions of new customers.