Bharti Airtel booked a huge loss for its fiscal Q4 ending 31 March due to a surge in one-off charges, though its operations in India registered robust growth in mobile revenue, ARPU and subscribers.
It slipped to a net loss attributable to shareholders of INR52.37 billion (US$691.6 million) from a profit of INR1.07 billion in fiscal Q4 2019, its fourth consecutive quarterly loss, due mostly to INR47.7 billion-worth of exceptional items. The bulk of these related to regulatory costs stemming from a Supreme Court decision to broaden the definition of adjusted gross revenue.
Consolidated revenue rose 15.1 per cent year-on-year to INR237.2 billion.
In a statement, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO of Airtel India and South Asia, Gopal Vittal said it registered healthy revenue growth driven by sustained momentum of 4G customer additions and improved tariffs. He said data traffic grew 74.1 per cent.
Vittal added it was clear telecoms played an essential role in keeping the country going, noting: “We are therefore hopeful the government will implement the recommendations of the 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”.
Mobile revenue increased 22 per cent to INR129.5 billion, with ARPU climbing 25.2 per cent to INR154.
It ended March with 283.7 million mobile subscribers, up 1.9 per cent, and average data usage rose 35.5 per cent to nearly 15GB a month.
Capex for the full year declined 24 per cent to INR151 billion. The number of base stations increased 20.7 per cent to 503,883.
Its business division posted 12 per cent revenue growth in fiscal Q4 to INR33.8 billion, with its tower unit up 1 per cent to INR16.8 billion.
Revenue from its 14 operations increased 14 per cent to US$922 million, as its subscriber base grew 11.9 per cent to 110.6 million and ARPU rose 6.4 per cent to US$2.80.
Data turnover jumped 38.9 per cent to $260 million, with a 56.1 per cent increase in average usage to 2.15MB a month.
Airtel Money revenue increased 29.5 per cent to US$86 million, with transaction value up 33.2 per cent to US$8.62 billion and active user numbers of 18.3 million up 28.7 per cent
Fiscal 2020 capex fell 19 per cent to US$246 million, with base station deployments up 45 per cent to 47,082.