PacNet cuts loss, thanks to corporate biz growth

Singapore's Pacific Internet Ltd has reported a net loss of US$1.3 million, excluding a US$1.8 million one-time write-down of fixed assets, for its second quarter ending June 2001.
Written by Anand Menon, Contributor
SINGAPORE--Nasdaq-listed Pacific Internet Ltd (PI) today reported a net loss of US$1.3 million, excluding a US$1.8 million one-time write-down of fixed assets, for its second quarter ending June 2001.

This compares with a US$3.3 million loss in the first quarter of this year, and a US$2.9 million loss in the second quarter of last year.

In a statement yesterday, the locally-based company said the write-down was for telephony assets--a move that resulted from its decision to scale down the international direct dialing business and focus on Internet-related services.

PI also noted that revenues rose to US$20 million, or 37 percent, in the second quarter from about US$14.6 million the same period last year.

In a conference call last evening, PI chairman Ko Kheng Hwa said the company has a net cash surplus of US$1.3 million for the year, and is on track to achieving profitability by the end of next year.

"Moving forward, Pacific Internet will continue to pursue our strategy of growing our broadband services, corporate customers and total Internet solutions," he added.

The company received a boost from its corporate business in the second quarter, which saw revenue grow 27.8 percent compared with the first quarter, noted PI president and CEO Tan Tong Hai. According to him, the growth was "primarily due to the rapid take-up rate of our corporate broadband service in the region, specifically in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia."

Consumer revenue, on the other hand, grew 16.2 percent, he added.

Going forward, Tan believes that growth will be fueled by "customer partnerships". He identified PI's customers as vendors, home-users or a small and medium enterprises that use its Internet services.

For the corporate market, PI said it would partner with vendors to sell the latter's products and services (such as anti-virus services) to PI's clients. "We will also get these vendor partners to buy Internet services from us so that they become our customers too," said Tan.

Sales from dial-up access in the second quarter was US$9.8 million, contributing to about 49 percent of PI's total revenue. Leased line access contributed about US$4.5 million, or about 23 percent, to overall sales.

As of June this year, its total dial-up subscribers in six Asian countries--Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, India and Thailand--rose by about 10 percent in the second quarter year-on-year to 376,091. The total number of regional leased line subscribers was over 3,000, according to Tan.

The company's broadband services--available in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong--had attracted 8,955 customers as of June, PI claimed.

Catcha.com now in the past
When asked, Tan declined to reveal PI's out-of-court settlement figure with Catcha.com Pte Ltd, saying only that "we want to put that aside and focus on a business partnership (with Catcha)".

Last month, Catcha.com finally settled its lawsuit with PI. The legal proceedings began on December 10, 1999, when PI filed a writ of summons with the Singapore High Court alleging that Catcha--a dotcom that runs a network of localized portals in Southeast Asia--used content created by PI without consent or attribution.

With the business partnership, PI's travel portal Safe2Travel will be hosted on a co-branded site within Catcha's portal, while the Catcha's search engine will be made available on PI's local site.

In the US, shares of PI last traded unchanged at US$2.75.

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