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India's Vodafone Idea misses Q4 revenue view as subscriber base narrows

FILE PHOTO: A man walks across the LED display board showing the logo of Vodafone-Idea at the ongoing India Mobile Congress 2022, at Pragati Maidan, in New Delhi

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Vodafone Idea, India's third-largest telecom operator by subscribers, missed analysts' estimates for quarterly revenue on Thursday, hurt by its shrinking user base.

The company's consolidated revenue rose 0.7% to 106.07 billion Indian rupees ($1.27 billion) for the quarter ended March 31, compared with LSEG estimates of 107.15 billion rupees.

Consolidated loss after tax widened to 76.75 billion rupees, while analysts expected a loss of 76.88 billion rupees.

Vodafone Idea was formed by a merger between the Indian arm of UK's Vodafone Group and Aditya Birla Group's Idea Cellular in 2018, in a bid to contest a brutal price war triggered by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

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Since then, the merged entity has posted a loss in every quarter as it lost ground to rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.

Vodafone Idea's 4G subscriber base grew to 126.3 million as on March 31, 2024, from 122.6 million a year ago. But its overall subscriber base fell about 6% to 213 million.

The debt-saddled company had raised 200 billion rupees through equity last month, as part of a larger fundraising plan with an aim to launch its 5G services and expand 4G coverage.

The company is in discussions with banks to raise up to 250 billion rupees and additional non-fund based facilities of up to 100 billion rupees, it said on Thursday.

It plans to utilize these funds for capex, which is expected to be in the range of 500-550 billion rupees over the next three years.

The company's average revenue per user (ARPU), a key performance metric for telecom firms, rose to 146 rupees from 135 rupees a year earlier, in line with analysts' estimates, as it onboarded more 4G users.

Still, it lagged ARPU at rivals Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.

Shares of Vodafone Idea closed 0.4% lower ahead of results.

($1 = 83.4752 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)