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Bharti Airtel profits leap, first rise in 4 years

29 January 2014, 12:34

New Dehi - India's top mobile firm Bharti Airtel reported a surge in quarterly profit on Wednesday, breaking a nearly four year decline, helped by mobile data earnings and easing tariff wars.

The company, the fourth largest globally by customers, said net profit for the third financial quarter to December rose to 6.10 billion rupees ($98 million) from 2.8 billion rupees a year earlier.

Shares rose marginally by 0.60 percent to 308.15 rupees on the Bombay Stock Exchange, but market gains may be limited as earnings were lower than analyst estimates.

Bharti Airtel's total revenue for the quarter was 219.6 billion rupees from 193.8 billion rupees a year ago.

"Our efforts over the last 12 months to improve the quality of customer acquisitions have resulted in significant reduction in customer churn," said Gopal Vittal, joint managing director and chief executive officer of Indian operations.

"Our focus on superior internet experience has resulted in increased data adoption and usage. Data is now a huge source of revenue growth," Vittal added.

Bharti is one-third owned by Singapore's SingTel, Southeast Asia's leading telecom operator. The company has nearly 290 million clients across 20 countries, 70 percent of them in India.

Bharti and other Indian firms started raising some prices last year and reducing discounts that were previously offered during tariff wars that pushed call rates down to among the world's lowest.

These companies have also benefited from the exit of smaller rivals.

The number of major telecoms players has tumbled from more than a dozen to around half that number, after a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that scrapped the licences of various smaller firms over a scandal-tainted spectrum sale.

Bharti signed an infrastructure sharing pact with competitor Reliance Industries' telecom arm last month, which could accelerate the rollout of communication services in the fiercely competitive sector and cut costs.



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