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UPDATE 1-India's Bharti Airtel swings to quarterly profit on subscriber gains

(Adds details from co statement and background)

BENGALURU, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Bharti Airtel swung to a quarterly profit on Wednesday, as the Indian telecom firm added more subscribers and saw higher data usage during the coronavirus-led work-from-home trend.

With the December-quarter profit, India’s second-largest telecom operator has snapped a streak of six loss-making quarters during which the company has seen a growth in market share even as it grappled with a tariff war and demands to pay massive government dues.

Airtel’s subscriber base in India grew to 336.2 million, with the company adding 12.9 million 4G subscribers during the last three months of 2020 to reach 165.6 million.

The telco has been gaining subscribers over the past few months, with analysts pointing out that the firm has also seen gains in some of the key markets of loss-making rival Vodafone Idea.

Average revenue per user for the quarter rose 23% to 166 rupees.

Airtel’s consolidated profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 came in at 8.54 billion rupees ($117.07 million) from a loss of 10.35 billion rupees in the year-ago period.

The firm’s consolidated revenue from operations surged 24.2% to 265.18 billion rupees on gains in subscriber base and higher tariffs.

($1 = 72.9488 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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