Chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Airtel Limited, Sunil Bharti Mittal.
Chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Airtel Limited, Sunil Bharti Mittal.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Wednesday reported widening of losses to Rs 15,933 crore for June quarter -- its fifth straight quarter of decline -- as the telco made additional provision for statutory dues.

During the June quarter, the company recorded an incremental provision of Rs 10,744.4 crore towards Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues it owes to the government.

It is pertinent to mention here that Bharti Airtel owes Rs 25,976 crore in balance AGR dues, after paying Rs 18,004 crore.

Airtel's loss for the corresponding period last year (Q1 FY20) was Rs 2,866 crore.

The telco's revenue for just-ended quarter (Q1 FY21) came in at Rs 23,939 crore, which was 15.4 per cent higher than same period previous year, the company said in a statement.

The mobile services India revenues grew 18.5 per cent year-on-year and average revenue per user - a key metric for telecom companies - also improved to Rs 157 from Rs 129 in Q1FY20 "led by full impact of tariff hikes" in the previous quarter alongside "continuing focus on quality customers".

The ARPU was also better when compared to Q4 FY20 level of Rs 154.

India revenues for June quarter at Rs 17,589 crore rose by 14.6 per cent year-on-year on a reported basis, it said. 4G data customers increased by 45.3 per cent to 138.3 million.

The consolidated net loss before exceptional items for the quarter stood at Rs 436 crore, the statement said, adding that consolidated net loss after exceptional items stands at Rs 15,933 crore.

The company noted that the Supreme Court has made it clear that the amounts of AGR dues is to be treated as final and there can be no recalculation, but has reserved its order on the issue of period over which such payments could be made, and its terms.

"Consequently, without prejudice and on prudence, during the quarter ended June 30, 2020 the Group has further recorded an incremental provision of Rs 107,444 million.

"...to give effect of the differential amount between DoT demand along with provision for subsequent periods for which demands have not been received computed based on the terms of the license agreement, court judgment and the guidelines / clarifications and AGR provision, which has been presented as exceptional item," the statement said.

The statutory dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October last year, upheld the government's position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.

Gopal Vittal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Bharti Airtel said that data traffic growth surged by about 73 per cent year-on-year even as 4G net additions slowed down to 2 million caused by supply chain shocks in the device ecosystem.

"Revenues grew by 15 per cent year-on-year and performance was satisfactory across all segments," he said.

The company has made "rapid strides" in digital business with nearly 155 million monthly active users across Airtel Thanks, Wynk, Xstream and our payments platforms.

"We are most excited about the string of partners we are attracting in order to build greater stickiness and ultimately growth from our digital assets," Vittal added.

On coronavirus pandemic, the company observed that delivering uninterrupted services and strong end-user experience through several rounds of lockdowns and un-locks over the last quarter have been its priority.

"We are operating in an unprecedented situation and telecom has become an essential service...The situation is evolving on a daily basis and we are monitoring it closely, district by district," the statement said.

The results came after close of the market hours. Bharti Airtel shares ended at Rs 566.35 apiece on Wednesday on the BSE, 0.30 per cent higher than the previous close.

India's largest telecom company Reliance Jio is slated to announce its June quarter results on Thursday.

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