India’s Bharti Airtel reports dip in profit

MUMBAI, April 28, 2010 (AFP) – India’s top mobile phone company Bharti Airtel Wednesday blamed an 8.2-percent fall in its fourth-quarter net profit on “hyper-competition” in its domestic market. Net profit for the three months to March 31 fell on a 12-month basis to 20.55 billion rupees (46 million dollars) while revenues for the same period edged up 2.4 percent to 100.56 billion rupees, the company said.

“Bharti continues to be strongly positioned in India, despite a hyper-competitive market,” Bharti chairman Sunil Mittal said in a statement.

A flood of new players has unleashed a cut-throat price war in India with calls now costing less than a cent a minute.

India has more than a dozen cellular operators compared with just two state-owned telecom players a decade ago.

As it searches for new subscribers in untapped markets, Bharti announced its entry into the African market last month with a 10.7-billion-dollar deal to buy Kuwait-based Zain’s Africa assets.

But analysts said they would continue to look at Bharti’s domestic growth, as it was still unclear how Zain’s acquisition would boost earnings.

“Bharti’s earnings were in line with expectations, but t