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UPDATE 3-India's Bharti Airtel posts first quarterly profit in nearly two years

(Adds details on fund-raising plan)

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

With the December-quarter profit, India’s second-largest telecom operator snapped a streak of six quarters of losses, during which the company grappled with a tariff war and demands to pay massive government dues but still grew its market share.

Separately on Wednesday, Airtel said it would raise up to 75 billion rupees ($1.03 billion) by issuing debt securities, but did not provide further details.

The telco added 4.4 million subscribers last November, more than double of what market leader Reliance Jio raked in for the month, regulatory data from last week showed.

“There is a clear-cut tailwind of customers upgrading from 2G to 4G at a fast pace and them (Airtel) being able to grow their overall subscriber base, indicated that they are gaining subscribers in a stagnant market, possibly from Vodafone Idea,” said Vivekanand Subbaraman, an analyst at Ambit Capital.

The Indian unit of Vodafone owes the government roughly 500 billion rupees in dues, and has steadily lost subscribers over the past few months.

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.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) for the quarter rose 23% to 166 rupees, ahead of Jio’s ARPU of 151 rupees for the period.

Airtel logged a consolidated profit of 8.54 billion rupees for the December quarter, from a loss of 10.35 billion rupees in the year-ago period.

Quarterly consolidated revenue from operations surged 24.2% to a record high of 265.18 billion rupees.

$1 = 72.8800 Indian rupees Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Chandini Monnappa; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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