India’s Bharti’s fourth-quarter profit dives 31%

NEW DELHI, May 5, 2011 (AFP) – India’s top mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel said Thursday its fiscal fourth-quarter net profit tumbled 31 percent from a year earlier, weighed by costs from its new Africa acquisition. Net profit fell to 14.01 billion rupees ($314.3 million) in the three months to March from 20.44 billion rupees a year earlier, but revenues soared 51 percent as the operator added new customers.

The company paid $10.7 billion last June for the Africa business of Kuwaiti telecom operator Zain, vaulting the group into the ranks of the world’s top five wireless players by subscriber numbers.

But the costs of the acquisition have been mounting for Bharti as it has been investing heavily in the loss-making firm since June and has struggled with integration.

The performance, which was also hit by costs of buying third-generation mobile (3G) spectrum in India, undershot market expectations that Bharti would post around a 17 billion rupee net profit for the fiscal fourth quarter.

Bharti shares initially fell 2.54 percent to 360.20 rupees on the results in early trade but then retraced to sit 1.64 percent down at 363.55 rupees.

Bharti, which has more than 200 million customers in