SSTL reduces net loss in March quarter
Sistema Shyam Teleservices, whose mobile telephony licences were ordered cancelled by the Supreme Court in February, reduced its net loss to Rs 527.8 crore in the January-March quarter, against a net loss of Rs 666.4 crore in the first quarter of 2011.
Revenue rose 72 per cent to Rs 407.2 crore, from Rs 236.2 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2011, driven by 57 per cent growth in subscribers.
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“In spite of numerous legal and regulatory challenges being faced by the entire telecom industry, we have delivered strong results. We continue to stay focused on driving operational efficiencies across all areas of business," president and CEO Vsevolod Rozanov said. The company expected to become cash-positive on operations in 2015, he added.
Accumulated losses as of March 31 were Rs 8,425 crore, while consolidated debt from banks and financial institutions was Rs 8,285 crore.
The SC order had cancelled all 122 licences issued in January 2008 and the government was told to conduct a re-auction of spectrum by August 31 this year.
The validity of the cancelled licences was extended till September 7.
Sistema has already moved a curative petition in the SC for a re-examination of the verdict.
On the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s recommendations on the spectrum re-auction price, Rozanov said, “The proposed pricing will kill the growth...the huge price would not see mass participation (in auctions). Given the current situation, it should be fixed at the same level as the 1800 MHz band." He said the shareholders were carefully monitoring the situation.
Earlier, a senior board member of Russian partner Sistema JSFC, Andrey Terebenin, had said the company may not bid in the auctions if the Trai recommendations were accepted. Trai had suggested a base price of Rs 3,622 crore for every 1 MHz in the 1800 MHz band. For the 800 MHz band, in which CDMA technology operators such as SSTL operate, Trai had suggested a cut in the reserve price of CDMA spectrum from twice to 1.3 times the base price recommended for the 1800 MHz band.
An empowered group of ministers, chaired by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is to decide on the pricing.