Sanjay Kapoor, CEO of Bharti Airtel (India and South Asia) spoke to Hindustan Times about his company’s performance and strategy. Excerpts:
Do you think the worst is over?
We have posted good results for the fourth quarter. There was a dip in revenues in the second and third quarters. However, in Q4, the company registered a growth in revenue of about 2 per cent. Usage of minutes has also bounced back. This is a signal that consolidation in customers’ minds has begun to happen.
But a year-on-year comparison shows that Q4 profits are down?
Yes, Q4 profit is down compared to that of the corresponding period. This is mainly due to some extraordinary expenses pertaining to acquisition of Warid and Zain. Then there are some tax related issues.
Why is the average revenue per user (ARPU) declining?
We do not believe in ARPU. In India, as we penetrate into deeper terrain, ARPUs are bound to decline. With up to 14 players in the field, ARPU is not the right indicator. We are getting about 450-515 minutes per customer per month and we are close to 138 million customers. We are ahead of the market.
What percentage of your customers come from rural India?
About 60 per cent of our new customers are coming from rural India. I will not be surprised if up to 75 per cent of our new customers come from rural India in the next 12 to 18 months.