SingTel – BT

Bharti's profit falls for 9th straight quarter

Bharti Airtel, India's biggest mobile-phone carrier by subscribers, reported its ninth straight quarterly profit decline, hurt by intense price competition, higher interest costs and foreign-exchange fluctuation losses.

The company, controlled by billionaire Sunil Mittal, has lost market share in the past year to smaller rivals in the country's fiercely competitive mobile market, where carriers operate on wafer-thin margins with cheap voice calls accounting for a bulk of revenue.

Mobile data, which offers higher margins, is at a nascent stage in India, and the takeoff of premium third-generation data services has been slower than what the industry had initially expected in a price-sensitive market.

Cellular operators, including Vodafone's local unit, have also been hit by fresh uncertainty in recent months after a court ordered cancellation of all mobile-phone permits awarded in a scandal-tainted sale in 2008.

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