Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel has reported total revenues of INR196.3 billion (USD3.0 billion) for the three months ended 31 March 2018, a decline of 10.5% year-on-year. The drop was attributed primarily to the group’s domestic mobile segment, which saw a 19.9% drop in turnover to INR102.2 billion from INR127.6 billion in March 2017. Airtel’s Indian mobile division was impacted by changes to termination rates, as well as the continuing pricing pressure from the new market entrant. Outside of India, Airtel’s African division recorded a 10.6% increase in turnover to USD791 million, excluding contributions from its divested Ghanaian unit but including the revenue from recently-acquired Tigo Rwanda, the acquisition of which was completed on 1 February 2018. Consolidated EBITDA for the quarter, meanwhile, was INR70.3 billion – a drop of 12.0% y-o-y – whilst net income dropped to just INR829 million from INR3.7 billion in March 2017 and INR3.1 billion in December 2017. Airtel counted a total of 413.8 million subscribers at the end of March 2018, an increase of 11.1% annually, and including 304.2 million mobile subscribers in India (up 11.2% y-o-y) and 89.3 million across its 14 African markets (11.5%) as well as 14.2 million Digital TV customers in India.
In other Airtel news, the Economic Times writes that the group is planning to merge its standalone tower infrastructure arm, Bharti Infratel, with Indus Towers, a joint venture with Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. According to the company, the merger would create the largest tower firm outside of China, with a total of 163,000 towers across all 22 of India’s operating areas. Under the agreement, Vodafone would be offered 783.1 million new shares in the enlarged company in exchange for its 42% stake in Indus, whilst Idea would be given the option to either sell its 11.15% stake in Indus or to receive new shares in the combined entity. Minority shareholder Providence similarly has the option to part-sell its 4.85% shareholding in Indus: it may receive either cash or shares for the first 3.35% of its shareholding, with the remaining 1.5% to be exchanged for shares.