Bharti Airtel, India's largest telecom operator, reported 54 per cent decline in its December quarter profit to Rs 504 crore, its lowest in four years, as competition from new entrant Reliance Jio hit its revenues. Bharti Airtel had posted a net profit of Rs 1,108 crore for the corresponding period a year ago. A brutal price war has erupted in India's mobile phone market since the entry of Reliance Jio Infocomm, owned by the billionaire Mukesh Ambani, which has offered both free data and voice calls to win customers.
Bharti Airtel's consolidated revenues fell 3 per cent to Rs 23,364 crore compared to Rs 24,103 crore as it was forced to respond with price cuts to Jio's unlimited free voice and data services under a trial plan.
Bharti's net profit was 50 per cent below analysts' profit forecasts, which averaged Rs 1,087 crore, according to Thomson Reuters data.
"The quarter has seen turbulence due to the continued predatory pricing by a new operator," Gopal Vittal, Bharti's managing director and chief executive for India and South Asia, said in a statement.
"This has led to an unprecedented year-on-year revenue decline for the industry, pressure on margins and a serious impact on the financial health of the sector."
Bharti also reported losses from its Africa operations of Rs 620 crore, up from Rs 487 crore in the same period last year, hit by the devaluation of Nigerian currency, the company said.
Bharti Airtel shares ended 1.63 per cent lower at Rs 311.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.