Moody’s lifts Bharti Airtel rating outlook to stable

Moody’s Investors Service on Friday revised Bharti Airtel’s credit outlook rating to stable from negative on account of easing of competition in the telecom sector, increase in 4G customer base and mobile services rates from December.

It also considered options given to Bharti to make payment of pending adjusted gross revenue in instalments while revising the outlook.

“Moody’s… has affirmed Bharti Airtel Ba1 corporate family rating and senior unsecured rating,” the rating agency said in a statement.

‘Improving profitability’

“The ratings affirmation and change in outlook to stable reflect improving profitability at Bharti’s core Indian mobile business, because of a moderation in industry competition, an increase in its 4G customer base, and a tariff hike from December 2019,” Moody’s Senior VP Annalisa DiChiara said.

“The staggered payment resolution related to AGR liabilities is also a positive development. Overall, the company’s operating flexibility is improving and will benefit from a gradual expansion of profitability, which will provide a buffer against any material deterioration in credit measures and support a steady deleveraging,” Ms. DiChiara added.

Moody’s said it could upgrade Bharti’s ratings if its operating performance improves such that its consolidated leverage is sustained below 2.5 times, which needs to be achieved in conjunction with a material expansion in profitability at its Indian mobile business.

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