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Bharti Airtel Drops 7%, Vodafone Idea Down 10% After RIL AGM

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Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd shares took a beating on Tuesday, August 13, after Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani announced at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) that Reliance Jio has become India’s top most telecom company in terms of revenues, profits and subscribers.

Bharti Airtel shares declined nearly 7% to Rs 346.15, while Vodafone Idea shares tumbled 10% to Rs 4.80 in intra-day trade on Tuesday. Meanwhile, RIL shares surged as much as 12% to Rs 1,302.80 on BSE.

Mukesh Ambani announced on Monday that the three-year old Reliance Jio’s subscriber base now stood at over 340 million. This was higher than Vodafone Idea’s subscriber base of 320 million and Bharti Airtel’s 320.38 million at the end of the June quarter.

Ambani also said that he believed that a subscriber base of 500 million is within the company’s grasp as the fully 4G service provider is, on an average, adding 10 million subscribers every month.

Negative sentiment around Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea stocks also deepened after Mukesh Ambani announced the roll-out of commercial services of Jio GigaFiber from 5 September across the country with tariff plans starting from as low as Rs 750 per month at 100 Mbps speed. The launch is set to initiate another round of shake-up in the fixed line and broadband services sectors.

However, brokerage firm Motilal Oswal, in a research note on Tuesday, said that “unlike wireless launch, we do not see Reliance Jio’s lowest price plan at Rs 700 as a disruptor. We expect FTTH subscription growth to be gradual due to (a) high enrolment and device cost, (b) the need for household-level connectivity and (c) high incremental network cost.”

Interestingly, Vodafone Idea shares have sharply corrected since RIL’s previous AGM last year. The stock has corrected by a massive 84% in the period between 4 July 2018, when RIL held its 41st AGM, and 9 August 2019. Bharti Airtel has, meanwhile, gained 10% during this period.