Bharti Q1 profit surges, mobile users leap

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 26 July 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India's top mobile services provider, Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd., posted a 72 percent jump in quarterly profit on Tuesday as subscribers soared and its network expanded in the world's fastest-growing major wireless market.

The cheapest call rates anywhere in the world -- as low as 2-3 U.S. cents a minute for a local mobile call-are fuelling growth of wireless services in India, where fewer than 6 percent of the billion-plus people people have mobile phones compared with nearly 90 percent in a mature market such as Singapore.

Bharti , 32.8 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. , said consolidated profit rose to 5.1 billion ($117 million) in April-June.

Bharti, with a market value of $11.5 billion, making it India's most valuable telecoms stock, rose 2.8 percent to 274.75 rupees at 0611 GMT, against the broader market's 0.4 percent rise.

Earlier this month, Bharti said its mobile base surged 60 percent to 12.3 million users at the end of June from a year ago. Its overall customers, including fixed-line users, rose 58 percent to 13.2 million.

New Delhi-based Bharti, a big beneficiary of the wireless boom in Asia's third-largest economy, has expanded its network to cover all 23 circles or zones making up the nascent telecoms market, up from 16 a year ago.

It competes with rivals such as CDMA-technology operator Reliance Infocomm Ltd., state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and the Indian mobile operations of Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa group.

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