SINGAPORE--Amid rising pressure on its growth, SingTel has outlined a transformation strategy which includes allocating up to S$2 billion (US$1.6 billion) over the next three years to pursue strategic acquisitions in the digital space.
In an earnings briefing Wednesday, Southeast Asia's largest telco noted its fourth quarter income was dragged down by continued weakness in its Indian associate Airtel,, and a one-off divestment of its stake in telco Warid Pakistan. However, earnings were lifted by strong performances from Indonesia's Telkomsel and Thailand's AIS.
For the three months ended March 2013, the telco booked a 33 percent drop in net profit due to a one-time loss of S$225 million (US$180 million) from the. In the same period a year ago, the company was also boosted by an exceptional tax credit of S$270 million (US$217 million). Excluding exceptional items, underlying profit was down 2 percent to S$1 billion (US$0.8 billion). This was on the back of a 6.3 percent dip in revenue to S$4.48 billion (US$3.6 billion).
For the full year, SingTel recorded its
For its full year outlook, the company expects overall revenue to be stable, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), to grow by a low single digit level, led by productivity and yield management initiatives.
Focus on digital space, profitability to drive growth
"Our transformation requires twin tracks of confident investments in new markets and digital business and a diligent focus on increasing profitability from our core business. This is a multi-year journey," said Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO of SingTel.
As part of those plans, the telco will review investment opportunities, including increasing its stakes in its current associates and investing in large under-penetrated telecoms markets. Such markets include Myanmar, where it has as part of a consortia.
To create "next-generation growth engines in the digital space", SingTel will set aside S$2 billion (US$1.6 billion) over the next three years to pursue strategic acquisitions in the sector to drive growth. It has already been making much headway over the past year with its purchases of mobile advertising firm , lifestyle sites and , photo app , and investments in startups such as .
SingTel highlighted four key elements in its transformation strategy:
- Raising business performance of the core business by driving profitable revenue growth, operational efficiencies and creating a competitive cost structure.
- Lifting customer experience with simplified and compelling value propositions, supported by extensive and strong networks.
- Leveraging the group's assets to drive scale benefits.
- Creating innovative and differentiated digital services to enhance the core business and deliver new revenue streams.