Singtel Group regional associates' earnings dropped 37% for the fiscal year

The overall Singtel Group decreased its customer base from 706 million to 650 million customers.

Singaporean telecommunications giant Singtel has revealed its regional associates' pre-tax earnings for the full fiscal year to 31 March 2018 went down 37%, from SG$2.3 billion to SG$1.4 billion.

The drop was largely fuelled by intense competition in India and Indonesia, the company said.

Of Singtel's regional associates, Airtel reported a pre-tax loss of SG$471 million, compared to a SG$231 million profit in the year prior; Bharti Telecom went from a SG$216 million profit to SG$511 million loss; and Telkomsel reported that its pre-tax earnings dropped 17.9% year on year to SG$1.1 billion.

"Intense competition has affected the markets in India and Indonesia this past year. Airtel is strengthening its balance sheet with capital raising now in progress," Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said. "We continue to be optimistic about the growth potential of our associates' markets, with the rate of data usage growth and the plethora of digital content and services available and carried over the mobile networks."  

The overall Singtel Group's net profit, meanwhile, dropped 44% to SG$3 billion, largely due to the divestment of approximately 75% of NetLink Trust, as well as Airtel's struggles.  

Revenue remained steady for the full year at SG$17.4 billion, up 1% from SG$17.3 billion year on year.  

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) for the full year dropped 7% to SG$4.7 billion.

Singtel Group's customer base also decreased to 650 million customers across its brands, down from the 706 million mobile customers announced a year ago.

The average number of staff at Singtel Group for the full fiscal year to March 2019 was 15,478 staff, compared to 16,354 in the year prior. 

Broken down by segment, consumers brought in SG$9.8 billion for the full year, a 1% increase year on year. The Consumer group's revenue growth was driven by higher equipment sales and NBN migration revenues in Australia, Singtel said.

Enterprise revenue was down 2.3% year on year to SG$6.3 billion despite higher IT sales due to declines in legacy voice services and investments in cybersecurity.

The telco's Digital Life group accrued SG$1.2 billion in operating revenue for the full year, which was a 10% increase year on year. The gains are largely attributed to Amobee's programmatic platform business, contributions from Videology assets acquired last year, and technology licensing fees from iTV. 

"Our digital businesses Amobee and Trustwave continued to deepen their capabilities and to scale. Looking ahead, we will accelerate our digitalisation efforts to drive better customer experience and improve productivity and cost structure by transforming our processes," Chua said.

Singtel's data and internet revenues were down from SG$3.4 billion to SG$3.3 billion; IT remained somewhat steady, accounting for SG$3 billion in operating revenue for the full year; and fixed voice was down 17.1%, from SG$1.1 billion to SG$899 million.

Making more revenue was digital businesses, which rose from SG$1.1 billion to SG$1.25 billion, while sale of equipment jumped from SG$2.4 billion to SG$2.9 billion

The drop in pre-tax earnings for the full fiscal year are mirrored in the telco's fourth quarter results, with Singtel's quarterly earnings declining 20% to SG$389 million due to Airtel's struggles. 

Singtel's Australian subsidiary, Optus, also completed its full fiscal year to 31 March and collected AU$9.1 billion in operating revenue, which represents a 5.7% increase year-on-year. Over the course of the year, Optus shed 1200 jobs, from 8526 to 7326.

"We have executed well to our strategy amid tougher industry, business and economic conditions. The fundamentals of our core business remained strong. We gained market share in mobile across both Singapore and Australia led by our product innovations, content and services that were well-received by customers," Chua said.

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