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India's Bharti Airtel beats quarterly profit estimates on tariff hike

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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A girl checks her mobile phone as she walks past the Bharti Airtel office building in Gurugram
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BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit beat estimates and revenue jumped 22.3%, boosted by a recent tariff hike.

Its average revenue per user (ARPU) - a key performance indicator in the telecom industry - came in at 178 rupees for the quarter, up from 145 rupees from a year earlier. ARPU of rivals Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea for the same period was 167.6 rupees and 124 rupees, respectively.

Airtel, India's second-biggest carrier, said in November when it announced tariff hikes that mobile ARPU needed to be at 200 rupees and ultimately at 300 rupees, for a financially healthy business model.

The company has been raising money to fund its digital ambitions, including developing home broadband, data centres, cloud adoption as it prepares to launch its next-generation 5G services in the country.

In January, it announced an investment of up to $1 billion from Alphabet Inc's Google.

Airtel said on Sunday it would set up its fourth digital technology hub in the country, as part of plans to expand its in-house digital engineering capabilities.

Its consolidated net profit came in at 20.08 billion rupees for the quarter, up from 7.59 billion rupees a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of 19.78 billion rupees, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The company reported consolidated revenue from operations of 315 billion rupees ($4.06 billion) for the quarter ended March 31, compared with 257.47 billion rupees in the same period last year, according to a regulatory filing.

($1 = 77.5043 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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