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RCom reports smaller loss in first quarter

(Reuters) - Debt-laden Indian telecoms company Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) said its losses narrowed in the first quarter and it is confident of closing its debt resolution process by the end of September.

A man speaks on his mobile phone as he walks past a closed shop painted with an advertisement of Reliance Communications in Mumbai, India, January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

It reported a loss of 3.42 billion rupees ($34 million) for April to June on Wednesday, saying lower expenses in terms of access charges and licensing fees had helped reduce losses.

It was the company’s seventh straight quarter in the red but narrowed from a loss of 198 billion rupees in the previous quarter and a 12.21 billion rupee loss in the same quarter a year ago.

Like other Indian telecoms firms, RCom has been hit by a fierce price war and is the most leveraged of all listed telecoms carriers in India.

RCom, controlled by businessman Anil Ambani, is due to sell 181 billion rupee of assets to Reliance Jio Infocomm and Canada’s Brookfield, which will trim its huge debt pile.

Revenue from operations fell about 26 percent to 10.06 billion rupees in the first quarter, it said.

RCom owed banks $7 billion as of March 2017 when it last made public its debt level, and more to vendors.

RCom is confident of closing the ongoing debt resolution in the second quarter of FY 2018-19 as planned, the company said in its results statement.

Already reeling under a huge debt load, RCom fell deeper into the red after the market entry in 2016 of Reliance Industries’ telecoms venture Jio Infocomm, owned by Mukesh Ambani - Asia’s richest person and Anil Ambani’s older brother.

RCom, once India’s No.2 phone carrier, shut down its mobile business late last year. After the wireless business sale, it plans to focus on its enterprise business of data centres and undersea cabling.

($1 = 68.6200 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Chris Thomas and Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Susan Fenton