Bharti Airtel saw its Q1 profits fall steeply following “sustained pricing pressure” in the Indian mobile market.
The market leading operator saw its mobile business contract by 11%, although its Digital Business and TV units have been faring better. Airtel’s total revenue for India and Sri Lanka dropped by 13.3% to INR150.3 billion ($2.2 billion).
MD and CEO of Airtel India and South Asia Gopal Vittal said: “Industry pricing continues to remain untenable. However, led by our successful bundles, content partnerships and handset upgrade programmes, our mobile data traffic surged 355% on a year-on-year basis. With consolidation largely done, the secular opportunity of the Indian telecom market continues to excite us and we remain committed to offer best-in-class services to all consumers.”
Airtel acquired Telenor’s Indian unit during the first quarter and has folded it into its operations in the relevant telecom circles. The acquisition also allowed Airtel to increase its spectrum holding.
The firm’s African operations fared better, with revenue increasing by 13.9% off the back of growth in data and an increase in the average value of Airtel Money transactions. However, this figure was adjusted for currency fluctuations, with Airtel’s African unit officially reporting a revenue increase of 8.9% to INR52.8 billion.
Airtel Africa MD and CEO Raghunath Madava said: “With 4G services live across nine countries and continuing up-gradation of capacities across the operating companies, we remain best placed to capture the ever growing data market.”
Globally, the group’s net profit fell by INR3.7 billion to INR973 million, although pre-tax its loss was INR2.85 billion – write-backs of around INR18.44 billion meant that it was still able to turn a profit in Q1. The group’s revenue dropped 9% from INR219.58 billion to INR200.8 billion.
Across its operations, Airtel had 438 million mobile subscribers at the end of Q1 – an increase of 20.8%. Of this total, India accounts for 344.6 million, with 28 million obtained via its acquisition of Telenor.