CORPORATE FORTUNES

Airtel Losses Widen On Further AGR Provision

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Bharti Airtel reported another massive quarterly loss as it took an INR107 billion (US$1.4 billion) provision related to adjusted gross revenue (AGR) taxes being demanded by Indian authorities, though its revenue increased on higher data usage.

The latest one-off charge to cover anticipated AGR costs contributed to a fiscal Q1 2021 (to end-June) net loss of INR159.3 billion compared with an INR28.7 billion loss in fiscal Q1 2020. Without exceptional items, the recent loss stood at INR4.4 billion.

It is the company’s fifth consecutive quarterly net loss with one-off items related to AGR also blamed for declines in fiscal Q4 2020.

Revenue increased 15 per cent year-on-year to INR239.4 billion, with data usage up 73 per cent. Bharti Airtel India and South Asia CEO Gopal Vittal also pointed to improvements in the company’s margins, brought about by efforts to cut operating costs.

The company noted it introduced a number of policies to limit the effect of lockdowns imposed during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

These include opening new retail channels for the purchase of prepaid credit. Deals were struck with ATM providers, pharmacies, grocery retailers and post offices. It has also been trying to push users towards using digital channels.

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