22 January 2018

Africa: Bharti Airtel Africa's Revenue Rises By 5.3%

Performance of the African arm of India's Bharti Airtel, led by Nigeria, appeared to be on the upward swing, as the region reported a profit of $76 million in the first nine months of 2017, compared with a loss of $93 million same period a year-ago.

These earnings were boosted by a surge in data traffic and Airtel Money transactions, as Airtel Africa had reported a $48 million profit in July-September, making it a 5.3 per cent growth year-on-year to $783 million.

Bharti Airtel in its third quarter (Q3) 2017 report, according to ET Telecoms, showed that it had over 394.2 million customers in India, South Asia and Africa at the end of December, across its mobile, enterprise, home broadband and DTH businesses.

The Nigerian arm is the third lagest telecommunications firm in the country with over 35 million customers, which is 25.3 per cent market share.

Bharti Airtel, which had late last year denied Africa exit rumour, "but eyeing strategic acquisition" on the Continent, was at the weekend, reported to have pulled out of the race for the aqcuistion of embattled 9Mobile.

The Sunnil Mittal owned telecommunications, which was shortlisted by Barclays Africa (Financial Advisor for the sales of 9Mobile) along side Globacom, Teleology Holdings Limited, Smile Communications and Helios Investments Partners, did not submit a final bid for 9Mobile at the deadline date of January 16.

Sources claimed that Bharti Airtel pulled out of the race because of "many things are not too plain with the entire process."

"Airtel believes too many things are hidden about the health of 9mobile, and that it is too risky for anyone to buy the company. Things became compounded with the court case by Spectrum Wireless," sources stated.

Meanwhile, further analysis of the Q3 report showed that generally, Bharti Airtel's net profit plunged by 39 per cent, missing estimates and dropping for the seventh straight quarter, as a cut in interconnection usage charges (IUC) compounded the pressure on its voice and data businesses amid the continuing market disruption by Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Profit fell to Rs 306 crore in the three months ended December from Rs 504 crore a year earlier, the Sunil Mittal-led telco, almost 36 per cent owned by SingTel, said in a statement Thursday. The average profit estimated in a Thomson Reuters poll of analysts was Rs 398 crore. The company's profit in the July-September period was Rs 343 crore.

Consolidated revenue declined 13 per cent to Rs 20,319 crore as data and voice rates fell. It was Rs 21,777 crore in the quarter ended September.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, India & South Asia at Airtel, Gopal Vittal, said in a statement: "A regulatory fiat in the form of a cut in domestic IUC rates had exacerbated industry ARPU (average revenue per user) decline in the December quarter, and the recent reduction in international termination rates will further accentuate this decline."

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