Bharti Airtel, on Wednesday, posted a 9.6 per cent decline in its consolidated net profit at Rs. 689 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2013, mainly due to the depreciating rupee and higher taxes. The company had reported a net profit of Rs. 762 crore in the corresponding period in the previous year.

“Derivative and exchange fluctuation losses during the quarter were Rs. 534 crore, mainly caused by the rupee depreciation, compared to gains of Rs. 160 crore in the same period last year,” the telecom operator said, adding that the consolidated tax charges, at Rs. 968 crore, have also increased from Rs. 454 crore last year, mainly increasing in Africa. The company's revenues increased 9.2 per cent to Rs. 20,264 crore in the quarter under review , from Rs.18,560 crore a year earlier.

The company said that an increase in pricing power, due to reduced competition, helped it arrest the decline in profits. Some operators, including Airtel, have cut back on discounts offered to customers after a few stopped services on failing to win spectrum.

“For the first time we have really some good element of pricing power, diminishing of waste and leakages coming back into the marketplace,” Bharti's Group Chief Financial Officer Sarvjit Singh Dhillon said.

The company said its consolidated net debt decreased by $908 million during the quarter and stood at $9,779 million as a result of “additional equity infusion of Rs. 6,796 crore by Qatar Foundation Endowment and after considering the full debt in the Qualcomm subsidiaries”

Globally, Airtel's customer base increased 5.4 per cent to 27.4 crore, dominated by mobile users, compared with 26 crore a year earlier.

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