Bharti Airtel, on its part, slammed the move and said that the company was disappointed with the regulation that comes at a time when the telecom industry is under severe financial stress.
“We are extremely disappointed with the latest regulation on the IUC, especially at a time when the industry is facing severe financial stress. The suggested IUC rate, which has been arrived at in a completely non-transparent fashion, benefits only one operator which enjoys a huge traffic asymmetry in its favour,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
“The sharp drop in the IUC rate will only help transfer part of its cost to other operators, thereby further worsening the financial health of the industry. As part of an industry, which continues to be a critical driving force behind the economic growth in the country, we are genuinely dismayed by this decision,” it added.
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At 09:32 AM; RIL was up 2% at Rs 859, while Bharti Airtel (down 2% at Rs 387) and Idea Cellular (4% at Rs 80) on BSE. By comparison, the S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.18% at 32,460.
Historically, analysts say, the impact of IUC cuts have not been much because of lower incoming-outgoing ratio and considerably higher earnings before interest, depreciation, taxation and amortisation (EBIDTA) margins of incumbents. However, with a sharp decline in EBIDTA margins already, and skewed traffic after Reliance Jio’s launch, the impact on EBIDTA this time around should be more pronounced.
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“The dent will be more significant for incumbent category B and C circles, which have higher incoming ratios. Bharti’s Bihar circles will be significantly more impacted than metro circle Mumbai. Negative IUC impact to Bharti’s consolidated EBIDTA will be by 4% while its mobility business FY18 EBITDA will be hit by 8%. We believe Idea Cellular’s FY18 EBIDTA to get a 10% dent,” says Naveen Kulkarni, an analyst tracking the sector with Phillip Capital.
Purely from a stock return perspective, A K Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital feels most of the negatives are already factored in and investors should hold on to telecom stocks for now. Reliance Industries, he feels, should continue to outperform going ahead.