Fitch gloomy on India

Most Indian telecom operators will continue to suffer operating losses next year, as a result of intense competition and low ARPU, Fitch Ratings warns.
The credit agency assigns an overall negative rating to the Indian telecoms market, noting that only the country’s top four private telcos – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications – are likely to be in a position to improve their credit metrics in 2012.
Private operators will benefit from the recent end of a mobile tariff price war, however the nation’s six smaller operators and state-owned telecom firms BSNL and MTNL are tipped to continue generating operating losses in 2012 due to high competition and low ARPU, Fitch said.
The ratings agency notes a forthcoming New Telecom Policy means even India’s private operators remain at risk of regulation, and has cut its outlook for Bharti to a negative rating.
On the plus side, Fitch predicts mobile tariffs and ARPU will remain stable through next year, and notes a government plan to simplify mergers could also be good news for the market.