Reliance Communications: Mystery of the missing towers

Written by Devangi Gandhi | Mumbai | Updated: Sep 9 2014, 12:58pm hrs
RelianceThe firm?s annual reports say RITL?s tower base was between 48,000 and 50,000 over FY09-FY13. (Reuters)
The annual report of Reliance Communications (RCom) has left analysts puzzled about a decline in the number of towers the company has, reports Devangi Gandhi in Mumbai.

Kotak Institutional Equities (KIE) said in a report on Monday that the reported number of towers for Reliance Infratel (RITL), the telecom infrastructure unit of RCom, at the end of FY14 stood at 43,379 versus 50,000 a year earlier and at the end of the previous two financial years.

The firms annual reports say RITLs tower base was between 48,000 and 50,000 over FY09-FY13. FEs email request for a clarification on the fall in the number of towers was not answered till the time of going to press. The disclosures on RITL make for interesting reading.

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KIE points out that although the Ebitda in FY14 grew 15.5% year-on-year on the back of a 10.2% y-o-y growth in revenue, the company ended up with a net loss of R110 crore compared with a profit of R800 crore in FY13. RCom's revenue per tower works out to R18 lakh a year for FY14, nearly 2.2 times that of Bharti Infratel's revenue per tower. That RITL reported a net loss despite such healthy revenue per tower challenges out understanding of the telecom tower business, KIE wrote.

The brokerage terms RComs breakup of standalone and consolidated financials perplexing given that despite a 50% y-o-y drop in adjusted standalone Ebitda, adjusted consolidated Ebitda gr-ew 4% y-o-y, implying a sharp 36% growth in subsidiary Ebi-tda on a 4% revenue growth.