Bharti Airtel loss widens to Rs 15,933 crore in Q1; revenue up 15.4%

Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal had said on Tuesday that Indian telecom was not yet “out of the woods”
Bharti Airtel on Wednesday reported widening of losses to Rs 15,933 crore for the June quarter — its fifth straight quarter of decline — as the telco made additional provision for statutory dues. The firm, however, posted an over 2x jump in profit before tax (PBT) of Rs 372 crore for the quarter ended June (Q1) before exceptional items. Buoyed by higher data usage thanks to people working from home, consolidated revenues rose 15.4 per cent to Rs 23,939 crore.

Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal (pictured) had said on Tuesday that Indian telecom was not yet “out of the woods”. Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia), said: “We are going through an unprecedented crisis. Data traffic growth surged 73 per cent YoY even as 4G net addition slowed to 2 million, caused by supply chain shocks in the device ecosystem. Revenues grew 15 per cent YoY and performance was satisfactory across all segments.”

It has made an incremental provision of Rs 10,744 crore (including net interest on total provision created considering interest rate based on the affidavit filed by the DoT), which has been presented as an exceptional item. According to DoT calculations, Airtel owes Rs 43,780 crore in AGR dues, of which Rs 18,004 crore has been paid. 

In March, in its prayer petition to the SC, the DoT had sought a 20-year staggered payment for telcos’ dues, along with a waiver of interest and penalty. On June 11, the court directed Airtel and Vodafone Idea to file replies on the road map of payment, time to be allowed, and securities. On July 20, it reserved its verdict on the issue of timeline for staggered payment. The matter is due for hearing on August 10.  Airtel’s average revenue per user (Arpu) rose to Rs 157 a month in Q1FY21 from Rs 129 in Q1FY20. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) stood at Rs 10,639 crore, while Ebitda margin was 44.4 per cent, the statement said.

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