Costly Call

NEW DELHI, August 3, 2011 (AFP) – India’s top mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel reported Wednesday a worse-than-expected 28 percent plunge in quarterly profit, hit by costs of its Africa acquisition and investments in 3G. Net profit slid to 12.15 billion rupees ($273.8 million) for the fiscal first quarter to June from a year earlier on revenues that climbed 39 percent to 169.75 billion rupees as the operator added new customers.

“Bharti Airtel has started this fiscal year on a stable note. Revenue growth has been steady across all geographies,” chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said, adding it “promises to be an exciting year of transformation.”

But the New Delhi-based company’s shares plunged by more than four percent after the results on investor disappointment over the earnings before recovering to trade down 1.6 percent at 425.10 rupees.

Analysts had expected Bharti to post a 15 billion rupee profit.

The mobile firm, India’s largest by subscribers, paid $10.7 billion last June for most of the Africa business of Kuwaiti telecom operator Zain, vaulting the group into the ranks of the world’s top five wireless players by users.

But the interest costs of the acquisition have been mounting for