India’s Bharti reports dive in profit, hit by Africa costs

NEW DELHI, February 2, 2011 (AFP) – India’s top mobile phone firm Bharti said on Wednesday quarterly net profit slid 41 percent, hit by costs from its new Africa business and foreign exchange losses, but was upbeat on its future. But Bharti began last month rolling out its ultra-fast third-generation (3G) telecom services which analysts say should open up a new profit stream for the company, which paid 2.7 billion dollars for spectrum in an auction last year. Net profit fell to 13.03 billion rupees ($285 million) in the three months to December from 21.95 billion rupees a year ago, the company reported.

Despite the fall, Bharti continued “to sustain its growth momentum across India, South Asia and Africa,” company founder Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

Results were hit by a one-off foreign exchange loss of 1.5 billion rupees, and $3.4 billion in rebranding costs for its new Africa operations.

Without the exceptional costs, net profit would have been up 10 percent on a quarter-on-quarter basis and flat on a year-on-year basis, chief finance officer Manik Jhangiani told reporters.

Bharti’s share price initially slumped 3.2 percent but rallied to trade up 2.30 percent at 321.85 rupees as investors reacted positiv