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Bharti Airtel Q4 net down 28% at Rs 1,006 cr

Profit hit by higher costs on tax, foreign exchange and amortization

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India's largest telecom company by subscribers, has reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 1,006 crore in the fourth quarter ended March, down 28% from Rs 1,400 crore a year earlier.

This was the telecom major's ninth straight quarterly profit decline as intense price competition and losses on foreign exchange eroded earnings.

The consolidated net income was impacted by higher costs on account of 3G licence fee amortisation (Rs 106 crore), 3G interest cost (Rs 84 crore), forex fluctuation losses (Rs 132 crore) and tax provisions (Rs 198 crore), the company said in a statement.

"I'm pleased that the year ended with the company's customer base crossing 250 million across 20 countries. Our launch of 4G LTE, the first in India is a testimony of our commitment to the broadband agenda," Bharti Airtel CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

However, the recent regulatory developments in India will have significant implications on the future of telephony and broadband as well as India's global competitiveness, he added.

"The entire industry looks to the government for a fair, transparent and sustainable telecom regime," Mittal said.

Total revenue of the company, however, was up by 15 per cent at Rs 18,729 crore for the March quarter, compared to Rs 1,293 crore in the year-ago period. Its revenue from India and South Asia was at Rs 13,421 crore in the quarter under review.

For the full year ended March, 2012, Bharti Airtel's net profit was down by 29.6 per cent at Rs 4,259 crore, compared to Rs 6,047 crore in 2010-11.

Total revenue for FY12 fiscal stood at Rs 71,451 crore, as against Rs 59,538 crore in FY11, up 20 per cent.

It faced a forex loss of Rs 132 crore, while the EBITDA margin was at 33.3%.

Airtel's overall average revenue per user (ARPU) for the quarter was at Rs 189 per month.

Bharti, nearly a third owned by Southeast Asia's top phone carrier SingTel, operates in 20 countries across Asia and Africa.

In 2010, the company paid $9 billion to acquire most of the African operations of Kuwait's Zain, making Bharti the world's fifth-largest mobile phone carrier.

Bharti, controlled by billionaire Sunil Mittal, had 181 million customers in India as of end-March, or almost a fifth of the market of more than 900 million.

Shares of Bharti Airtel were trading at Rs 316.25, up 1.92% from the previous day's close.

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