Bharti Airtel profit growth slips in 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 8:14 by Business Editor

Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, posted its lowest profit growth in 2009, in nearly six years. The shares of Airtel fell 5.2 percent to Rs 295.75 after the company announced that its net profit had increased 13 percent in July-September 2009, from Rs 20.5 billion (in the same period in 2008) to Rs 23.2 billion.

These growth figures were lower than the net profit of 24 per cent, posted in April-June 2009, in comparison to the same quarter in 2008.

Reports say that four operators, including Etisalat, are poised to enter the already crowded Indian market, in 2009.

Tata DoCoMo, a joint venture of  India’s Tata Teleservices Ltd. and Japan’s largest wireless operator NTT DoCoMo Inc, that was launched in India in June 2009, has already stolen a march over Bharti Airtel by signing up more subscribers in the third quarter.

Tata DoCoMo’s plan to charge per second for calls, unlike other operators who charge per minute, has enabled it to garner more subscribers.

Meanwhile, Vodafone’s market share has grown to 17.7 per cent at the end of August 2009 from 17.3 percent during the same period, in 2008.

During the same period, Airtel’s market share fell from 24.5 per cent to 23.6 percent. Reliance, which also cut down its prices, increased its market share from 17.8 per cent to 18.4 per cent over the past one year.

Akhil Gupta, deputy chief executive officer of parent Bharti Enterprises Pvt., is reported to have said that Bharti Airtel is looking at emerging markets and plans to expand its non-mobile businesses, such as data and direct-to-home broadcasting.

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