Bharti Airtel Ltd posted a massive net loss, its second quarterly loss in 14 years, amid a brutal price war unleashed by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd that has ravaged its rivals and reshaped India’s telecom market.
The New Delhi-based operator swung to a ₹23,045 crore loss in the quarter ended 30 September from a net profit of ₹118 crore in the year earlier, due to provisions made for an unfavourable court verdict.
Bharti Airtel’s net loss exceeded its consolidated revenue from operations which grew 4.9% year on year to ₹21,131 crore in the September quarter.
Airtel’s results come three weeks after the apex court upheld the government’s broader definition of revenue, on which it calculates levies on telecom operators, dealing a ₹92,000 crore blow to the telecom industry, which is already burdened with falling tariffs and mounting debt.
The top court rejected the definition of the adjusted gross revenue proposed by telecom operators and excluded revenue from non-core telecom operations, such as rent, dividend and interest income. The order marked the end of a 14-year legal tussle between the DoT and operators.
The department of telecommunications has also asked operators to conduct a self-assessment of dues.
Bharti Airtel, in a statement on Thursday, said it is hopeful of relief and in the absence of the same, has provided for an additional amount aggregating ₹28,450 crore as a charge for the quarter (comprising of Principal of Rs. 6,164 crore, interest of ₹12,219 crore, penalty of Rs. 3,760 crore, and interest on penalty of Rs. 6,307 crore) with respect to the license fee as estimated based on the Court Judgement and spectrum usage charges as estimated based on the definition of AGR.
Airtel’s revenue from mobile services in India was ₹10,811 crore in the three months ended 30 September, up from ₹10,724 crore in the June quarter. Its subscriber base grew from 276.81 million in the preceding quarter to 279.43 million in the September quarter.