India's Bharti Airtel posts Q4 revenue miss on currency devaluation in Africa

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel reported fourth-quarter revenue below expectations on Tuesday, hurt by currency devaluation in Africa.

India's second-ranked telecom carrier by subscribers said consolidated revenue from operations rose 4.4% to 375.99 billion rupees ($4.5 billion) for the three months to March 31, missing analysts' average estimates of 388.49 billion rupees, as per LSEG data.

It incurred an exceptional charge of 24.56 billion rupees on account of the currency devaluation in its group subsidiaries.

Airtel said mobile services revenue in Africa, the region which is the second-biggest contributor to its total revenue, fell nearly 16% on-year to 92.93 billion rupees, as it was impacted by the devaluation of African currencies, particularly in the Nigerian Naira.

Meanwhile, its India business, its biggest, recorded a revenue growth of nearly 13%, led by strong 4G/5G customer additions.

Airtel's 4G/5G data customers climbed by 28.6 million from last year and 7.8 million from the previous quarter, contributing 72% of its overall mobile customer base.

Average revenue per user (ARPU), a key financial metric where Airtel leads its rivals by a wide margin, rose to 209 rupees from 193 rupees a year earlier and 208 rupees in the last quarter.

Rival Jio's market share stands at 52.05% as of March 31, while Airtel has a 29.57% share and Vodafone Idea trails at 13.82%, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Airtel reported a 4.4% rise in its profit before exceptional items and taxes to 52.34 billion rupees.

Earlier in the day, Airtel's unit Bharti Hexacom posted a 10.4% year-on-year climb in fourth-quarter profit, led by a climb in its average revenue per user.

Airtel's shares settled 0.1% lower ahead of the results. They rose 19% during the quarter, outperforming a nearly 3% climb in the benchmark Nifty 50 index

($1 = 83.4860 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Kashish Tandon in Bengaluru; Editing by Sohini Goswami)