The firm has however posted a cash profit of Rs 294.82 crores for the year ended March 2002, up over 200 per cent from last years cash profit of Rs 97.14 crore.
Given the investments required in new cellular and basic telephony projects, in addition to its national and international long distance foray, the firm is not expected to be in the black in the near future.
We are definitely not looking at a net profit this year (ending March 2003), Bhartis joint managing director, Akhil Gupta told eFE. He declined to say when a turnaround was realistically possible.
Mr Gupta however expressed satisfaction with the numbers that Bharti has been able to manage inspite of a sharp slide in telephony tariffs during the year.
The firm has also been adversely impacted by the lack of interconnect with the government-owned telecom companies Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd which has restricted its national long distance service (NLD) to mobile-to-mobile calls.
In its flagship business of mobile telephony, which accounted for 83 per cent of overall revenue of Rs 1,500 crore, Bhartis subscriber base increased to 1.35 million as on March 2002, up 127 per cent from about 0.6 million a year ago.
It currently provides cellular services in seven of the 22 telecom circles (mostly contiguous to states) and intends to launch services in eight additional circles by June.
The firms total subscriber base, including cellular, basic and Internet customers, was 1.64 million on March 31, 2002, up 94 per cent from 0.84 million on the corresponding day a year ago.
With a debt of around Rs 400 crore, the companys debt-equity ratio was a low 0.29 on March 31, 2002.
During the current year, the firm plans to tap the debt markets to raise about Rs 1,000 crore.
We are finalizing the debt mobilization programme, looking at options in the domestic and international markets, Mr Gupta said.
For the quarter ending March 31, 2002, Bhartis net loss expanded to Rs 55.10 crore from Rs 41.75 crore loss in the preceding October-December 2001 quarter.
Revenue from operations was up 10 per cent to Rs 458.33 crore during the quarter from Rs 417.37 crore in the preceding quarter.