Optus growth again boosts SingTel

Optus growth again boosts SingTel

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has posted record revenue of $A2.34 billion for the third quarter of its fiscal year, the period from October 1 to December 31, 2003, 15.9 per cent up on the same quarter one year earlier.

It recorded a net profit of $662 million for the quarter, compared with $230 million for the year-earlier period.

"We are confident of delivering double-digit earnings growth for the medium term," said Lee Hsien Yang, SingTel president and chief executive officer. "We are committed to maintaining an EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortisation) ratio of 50 per cent of revenue."

Revenue from the company's home base in Singapore fell 17 per cent from the previous year to $755 million, with major falls in international call revenue and IT services revenue. The main highlight of the year was an 88 per cent increase in Singapore broadband subscribers to 240,000, SingTel said.

Revenue from outside Singapore now accounts for 77 per cent of SingTel revenue, by far the largest chunk being contributed by Australian subsidiary SingTel Optus, which recorded third-quarter revenues of $1.59 billion, 14 per cent higher than last year.

Optus also made a significant profit contribution to SingTel with quarterly net profit of $121 million compared with $20.9 million in the year-earlier period.

SingTel's other associate companies are becoming an important revenue and profit stream, especially in mobile operations, SingTel reported. Its regional mobile phone subscriber base jumped 43 per cent in the last year to 44 million subscribers through its associate companies in Indonesia, Thailand, India and the Philippines, together with Optus and SingTel itself.

The company is now considering investing in Pakistan, Lee said.

"We have made expressions of interest in the two new mobile licenses in Pakistan," he said. "But this is very preliminary and there are a lot of parties interested in those licences."

The Singapore government, through its investment arm Temasek Holdings, owns 65 per cent of SingTel and it is unlikely that the company will become majority public-owned in the foreseeable future, Lee said.

"There are no further plans (for Temasek) to dilute its shareholding in SingTel," Lee said.

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