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Airtel Q3 loss at Rs 1,035 crore after interest provisioning on AGR dues

New Delhi: Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Tuesday posted a consolidated loss of Rs 1,035 crore for the three months ended December 31, 2019, as the AGR-hit telco provisioned for interest component of its statutory dues.

December Q3 scorecard marked the third straight quarter of losses for the company, which had logged a net profit of Rs 86 crore a year ago. The company also said the previously reported material uncertainty on the group's ability to continue as a going concern "no longer exists" after the recent Rs 21,502 crore fund raising by it.

"The net exceptional charge of Rs 10,500 million (Rs 1,050 crore) during the quarter ended December 31, 2019 comprises of a charge on account of interest on the provision of license fee and spectrum usage charges recorded in the quarter ended September 30, 2019 of Rs 10,481 million pending disposal of the modification application before the Supreme Court," Airtel said.

Other elements included accelerated depreciation on 3G network equipment/operating costs on network re-farming and up-gradation programme, it added.

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

Bharti Airtel's liabilities added up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge dues.

It may be recalled that for September quarter, Airtel had posted a staggering Rs 23,045 crore net loss, after provisioning of Rs 28,450 crore on account of Supreme Court ruling on past dues.

For just ended December quarter, Airtel's consolidated revenues came in at Rs 21,947 crore, up 8.5 per cent over the same period previous year. The India revenues for Q3 FY20 stood at Rs 15,797 crore, 7 per cent higher over same period previous year, while Africa revenues were up 14.2 per cent.

Shares of Airtel closed 1.72 per cent higher on the BSE on Tuesday at Rs 519.10 apiece. The company announced results after the close of the market hours.

The company said that consolidated mobile data traffic on network grew 73 per cent year-on-year. The company logged the "highest ever" 4G subscriber additions during the quarter at about 21 million, and benefited from up to 50 per cent

tariff hike - call and data charges - it had announced in early December.

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