Bharti Airtel’s profits were down 37 per cent to Rs 762 crore in the first quarter ended June 30 compared with Rs 1,215 crore in the corresponding quarter last fiscal.

The company said its margin was depressed by the adverse regulatory and tax developments, enhanced market participation and planned accelerated investments in both India and Africa.

Revenues on a consolidated basis grew by 14 per cent to Rs 19,350 crore, marked by growth of 31.5 per cent in Africa and a 44.2 per cent increase in mobile data revenues.

Airtel now has 38 million data subscribers of which 3.7 million are on 3G network. Non-voice revenues account for 16.3 per cent of the total income but the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for data is only Rs 40 comparedwith Rs 154 a month for voice services.

The company said that its mobile revenues in India during the quarter were impacted by TRAI guidelines on processing fees which restricted the sales of “combo packs”. The regulations restricted the operators from free market pricing prevalent hitherto.

The net impact of these changes in the reporting quarter was in the range of Rs 250-300 crore. The service tax hike from 10.3 per cent to 12.36 per cent also had an impact on the numbers. The service tax on the company’s mobile revenues increased from Rs 944 crore in the previous quarter to Rs 1,159 crore in the current quarter

The overall ARPU was down 3 per cent to Rs 185. Airtel’s share was down 6.6 per cent at Rs 274 on the BSE on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the company said it has appointed a Committee of the Board of Directors to consider a listing of its telecom tower unit, Bharti Infratel Ltd, on the stock exchanges. The company plans to sell up to 10 per cent stake.

thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 8, 2012)
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