Info-tech

Bharti Airtel defers Q2, half yearly results to November 14 on AGR issues

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on November 02, 2019 Published on October 29, 2019

File Photo   -  Reuters

Sunil Mittal calls on Telecom Minister on Monday to discuss looming issues on AGR

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel  on Tuesday has deferred its second quarter (July-September) and half yearly results to be announced today to November 14, as more clarity was needed on the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) following the recent Supreme Court verdict.

"The Board of Directors, in its meeting held today, has accepted the management's recommendations and deferred the agenda item relating to the approval of the said financial results till Thursday, November 14," Airtel said in a filing to the stock exchanges.

"The company is approaching Department of Telecommunications to seek clarity on the total amounts involved and request for their support to deal with this adverse outcome," it added.

Airtel further said that all other agenda items will be taken up by the Board in the meeting to be resumed on Tuesday in the ordinary course.

The Supreme Court in its verdict on October 24, had upheld government contention that non-core revenue in telecoms groups should be included in AGR -- the figure on which statutory levies are charged.

 

Since then Airtel and Vodafone-Idea India (VIL) are having sleepless nights as both put together have a liability of around ₹75,000 crore (Airtel - ₹35,000 crore and VIL- ₹40,000 crore) to be paid to the government. The dues are on account of penalty and interest on licence fee unpaid by the operators.

However, as per VIL, the company has an outstanding amount of ₹28,309 crore to be paid to the DoT. But, the company also said, "We cannot presently comment on the correctness and completeness of the aforesaid figures. The company is studying the judgement and we will evaluate our next steps."

Read more: SC allows Centre’s plea to recover adjusted gross revenue from telcos

"The judgement has financial implications, which we are reviewing. We will engage with the DoT in order for it to consider granting relief, including a waiver of interests and penalties," VIL said in a filing in BSE said. The company is yet to announce the date of its quarterly and half yearly results.

Meanwhile, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel on Monday met top government officials including Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, over the issue.

Both Airtel and VIL are now looking at the government for a possible relief such as waiver of penalties and interest though the Supreme Court had categorically stated that companies must pay many years worth of charges plus interest and penalties.

Sources said that Kumar Mangalam Birla, of VIL has also sought a meeting with Prasad and other senior officials at the earliest. VIL

According to analysts, Airtel may report a consolidated net loss of ₹1,700 crore. However, quarter on quarter (QoQ) consolidated revenue and EBITDA are seen at 0.9 per cent QoQ to ₹21,000 crore and 0.6 per cent QoQ to ₹8,400 crore, respectively.

"Bharti is likely to report flattish mobile revenue on acquisition of Tata Tele well enforced from July, adding Rs.150 crore in revenue...Bharti will see a small dip in subscribers (LTL), and continued growth in mobile broadband subs," said ICICI Securities in its report earlier this month.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) for the company is expected to be down 1 per cent QoQ, negatively impacted from Tata Tele subscribers addition, which has a much lower ARPU, the analysts said adding that they expect mobile broadband subs net addition of around 8 million for Airtel.

Related news: Here’s how SC ruling on Adjusted Gross Revenue will impact Airtel, Vodafone Idea

In the first quarter ending June 30, Airtel had reported a consolidated net loss of ₹2,866 crore, a first time loss in the last 14 years. It had reported a net profit of ₹97 crore in the corresponding quarter previous year. However, total revenue of the company during the first quarter had grown by around 5 per cent to ₹20,738 crore as compared with ₹19,799 crore in April-June quarter 2018.

It had an overall customer base of 404 million across 16 countries as of June 30 and India mobile ARPU increased to ₹129 in the first quarter. Mobile revenues had witnessed a YoY growth of 3.7 per cent during the quarter and mobile data traffic had nearly doubled to 3,904 PBs in the quarter as compared to 2,003 PBs in the corresponding quarter last year.

Mobile 4G data customers increased by 63.3 per cent to 95.2 million from 58.3 million in the corresponding quarter last year. Non mobile businesses continue to perform well.

The company management during its Board meeting is also expected to comment on the ongoing debates around interconnect usage charges (IUC). While, TRAI has recently floated a consultation paper to study whether the original deadline of introducing zero interconnect rate should be delayed from January 1, 2020.

But, for now, the major issue is around the AGR for which the companies have to get a clarity from the DoT as the ball is in their court now.

Also read: Supreme Court ruling on adjusted gross revenue casts shadow over telecom industry’s future

Stocks of Bharti Airtel closed at ₹359.95 apiece on Tuesday in the BSE, down 3.41 per cent from the previous close.

Published on October 29, 2019
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor