Bharti Airtel posts consolidated loss before tax of Rs 7,010 crore in Q4

Bharti Airtel on Monday posted a consolidated loss before tax of Rs 7,010.5 crore for the quarter ended March 31 because of the payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, as compared to a profit before tax of Rs 713.5 crore a year ago and a loss of Rs 1,502.8 crore sequentially.

During the quarter, the company took an exceptional charge of Rs 7,004 crore mainly on account of the re-assessment of interest on licence fee, and spectrum usage charges (including interest on AGR).

In FY20, the company reported a net loss of Rs 32,183.2 crore, which also accounted for an exceptional loss of  Rs 28,812.3 crore. This exceptional loss included the payment of AGR dues.

In the fourth quarter, the telecom giant reported a consolidated loss at the net level of Rs 5,237 crore  as against a net profit of Rs 107.2 crore a year ago. This was despite a surge in the demand for internet services by the end of reporting period because of the imposition of the nationwide lockdown, which forced both government and private sector employees to switch to the work-from-home mode.

The results were in line with the Street estimates of a minimal to no impact of the tariff hike in the December quarter on the fourth-quarter numbers.

“These are unprecedented times for everyone across the world as we battle the impact of Covid-19 and its consequent impact on livelihoods….We are, therefore, hopeful that the government will implement the recommendations of Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and the intent of the New Telecom Policy and bring down the high levels of regulatory levies and taxes that the sector is subjected to," said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel. 

Vittal said the company's revenue growth in the March quarter was healthy — 14.4 per cent year-on-year. The mobile business grew 21.8 per cent.  This was driven by two factors: Sustained momentum in 4G customer additions (over 12.5 million in Q4) and improved tariffs.

The consolidated revenue for the quarter came in at Rs 23,723 crore, reporting growth of 15.1 per cent YoY.

In FY21, Airtel expects strong data traffic growth of 74.1 per cent YoY.

The average revenue per user (ARPU) grew 25.2 per cent at Rs 154, as against Rs 123 in the same period last year.

Sequentially, the ARPU rose 14.3 per cent from Rs 135. The company had announced a nearly 40 per cent tariff hike in December. The issue of AGR or adjusted gross revenue dominated the quarter under review for the company, with the Supreme Court coming down heavily on the telco and directing it to pay the dues. The court in an order issued on October 24 had accepted the government’s widened definition of AGR and left 15 telcos facing Rs 1.47 lakh crore in AGR dues. It also asked the carriers to submit their entire dues within three months of the order.

Airtel said the company has undertaken a capex investment of Rs 25,359 crore on a consolidated basis during the year to ensure superior customer experience, besides front-ending some investment to ensure seamless services during the ongoing pandemic.

The telco announced special measures to assist low-income group customers impacted by the crisis. It extended the pre-paid pack validity for over 80 million customers and credited an additional Rs 10 to their prepaid talktime, enabling customers to seamlessly make calls or send SMSes.

As of March 31, the company had 423 million customers, an increase of 4.9 per cent over the 404 million in the corresponding quarter last year. Total minute of usage on the network during the quarter was 902 billion, representing growth of 13.3 per cent as compared to 796 billion in the corresponding quarter last year.

Mobile data traffic grew 74.3 per cent to 6,688 billion MB during the quarter, as compared to 3,836 billion MB in the year-ago period.

Airtel’s consolidated net debt, excluding lease obligations for the company, stood at Rs 88,251 crore as of March 31, down 18.5 per cent from Rs 108,235 crore a year ago.


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