Telecom infrastructure company Indus Towers on Wednesday said it has collected and recognised on its books an amount of Rs 300 crore against the past dues alongwith 100 per cent monthly collection from a major customer.
In its Q3FY24 earnings call, the tower company said that it does see the entry of satellite internet companies like Starlink and others as a threat to tower requirements from telcos at this stage, since satellites primarily provide the backhaul connectivity complimentary to telecom services, by reaching uncovered areas.
Without naming Vodafone Idea, Indus Towers Chief Financial Officer Vikas Poddar said with regard to a major customer, the company has collected and recognised Rs 300 crore against the past dues in addition to the full monthly collection.
"With regard to the provision for doubtful debts...reported in the current quarter, I would like to explain the transaction with a major customer and the treatment of the same...we have collected and recognised Rs 3 billion against the past overdue in addition to the 100 per cent monthly collection, which resulted in reversal of provision for doubtful debts of the same amount," Poddar said.
Additionally, he said, Indus has adjusted a part of the monthly collection with interest receivables to the extent of Rs 3.3 billion (Rs 330 crore) during the quarter.
"That has resulted in an increase in interest income in the quarter and correspondingly a similar amount of provision for doubtful debts has been created. The reported provision for doubtful debts in the books hence reflects the net effect of the additional provision created and the reversal of Rs 3 billion," he said.
The top brass also fielded questions on the impact of satellite connectivity players on the tower market dynamics.
"...all these satellite connectivity companies that are coming in whether it is Starlink or the other competitors to them, is only going to provide complimentary services to the telecom services that are there, and largely as of now to uncovered areas because transmission networks are very difficult to reach out into some of those places," a company executive said.
As satellites provide primarily backhaul connectivity, Indus said it does not perceive it as a threat to the tower requirements from the operators, at this stage at least.
Indus Towers on Tuesday posted a consolidated profit after tax of Rs 1,541 crore for the just-ended December quarter. It had posted a loss of Rs 708 crore in the year-ago period.
The company's consolidated revenue grew six per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal to Rs 7,199 crore from Rs 6,765 crore a year ago.
"Our third consecutive quarter of record tower additions demonstrated our robust operational performance. We expect our major customer's focus on its network expansion and the ongoing 5G rollouts to continue, yielding growth opportunities for us in the near term," Indus Towers Managing Director and CEO Prachur Sah had said in the statement.
The company's total number of towers increased by 22,383 on a year-on-year basis to 2,11,775.
"The return on capital employed improved to 19.2 per cent as against 12.5 per cent on a year-on-year basis. The third quarter of the financial year had an impact of Rs 2,270 crore due to provision for doubtful debts and Rs 493 crore from exceptional items," the company said.