India’s Bharti Airtel registered its sixth consecutive drop in quarterly profits on the back of increased costs predominantly attributed to the rollout of its 3G network at home combined with losses at its African operations. For the three months ended 30 June 2011 Airtel posted net income of INR12.15 billion (USD275 million), down 27.7% against INR16.81 billion in the same period a year earlier, despite consolidated turnover increasing to INR169.75 billion, representing an increase of 38.6% against the INR122.43 billion in revenue the company generated in 1Q 2010. The drop in net income was partially the result of higher interest payments, which arose on the back of the company’s investment in its third-generation services in India, and also due to the acquisition of its African assets, which it purchased from Kuwait-based Zain in mid-2010. Turnover from the company’s domestic operations continued to represent the bulk of its sales, and in 1Q11 activities in India and South Asia generated INR126.30 billion in revenue, up from INR112.86 billion a year earlier, while the group’s African operations saw revenues of INR43.78 billion, up from INR9.58 billion. Airtel’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the first quarter of the 2011-12 fiscal year meanwhile stood at INR57.06 billion, up from INR44.46 billion.
In operational terms, at end-June 2011 Airtel had a subscriber base totalling 230.83 million, of which the bulk (221.25 million, or around 95%) were mobile customers. The group’s India and South Asia operations accounted for the majority of those, reporting 24% y-o-y growth to reach 175.94 million, while African mobile subscribers at the end of the first half of 2011 numbered 46.31 million, up 27% from 36.36 million a year earlier.