M1 majority shareholders end strategic review of stakes

M1 expects competition to heat up, with another player preparing to enter the "highly penetrated" mobile market. Based on its present outlook, the telco expects a decline in full-year net profit.
M1 expects competition to heat up, with another player preparing to enter the "highly penetrated" mobile market. Based on its present outlook, the telco expects a decline in full-year net profit.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SPH, Axiata, Keppel T&T announced review in March; Q2 net profit at telco down 21%

Three majority shareholders of M1 have ended a strategic review of their stakes in the telecommunications company.

In March, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Axiata Group and Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation announced the review. They jointly appointed Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) as financial adviser to help with the review, which they said "may or may not lead to a transaction".

Yesterday, SPH said: "The majority shareholders have taken into consideration the proposals from interested parties, which despite a favourable level of interest, have not met the minimum criteria and parameters as determined by the majority shareholders."

It added in its statement: "For the avoidance of doubt, no arrangement or agreement with any third party has been reached in relation to each majority shareholder's respective shareholdings in M1."

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As at March, the combined stake in M1 of the three shareholders was more than 60 per cent.

M1 released its second-quarter results yesterday. Expenses took a toll on the telco, with the bottom line falling even as revenue rose. Net profit slumped by 20.8 per cent to $32.5 million.

Second-quarter revenue rose by 4.7 per cent to $251.6 million, thanks to higher fixed services revenue from a bigger fibre customer base and large projects, as well as on the back of handset sales.

  • AT A GLANCE

    NET PROFIT: $32.5 million (-20.8%)

    OPERATING REVENUE: $251.6 million (+4.7%)

    DIVIDEND PER SHARE: 5.2 cents (-25.7%)

But this was wiped out by a $19 million or 9.9 per cent year-on- year rise in operating expenses - mostly from a higher cost of sales, with handset costs and fixed services wholesale costs to blame.

Finance costs jumped by 34.6 per cent for the second quarter from the same period the year before, owing to both higher borrowings and the interest rate.

Earnings per share slid from 4.4 cents last year to 3.5 cents. Net asset value per share came in at 44.9 cents as of June 30, slightly above the 43.4 cents as of Dec 31.

M1 has proposed an interim dividend of 5.2 cents per share, against seven cents previously.

On a half-year basis, net profit sank by 17.6 per cent to $68.8 million, despite a 2.9 per cent uptick in operating revenue, which rose to $512.3 million for the six months.

The group said competition is set to heat up, with another player preparing to enter the "highly penetrated" mobile market. Online services also continue to threaten traditional voice, messaging and roaming revenue. Based on its present outlook, M1 expects a decline in full-year net profit.

M1 shares rose by three cents or 1.45 per cent to close at $2.10, ahead of the results announcement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'M1 majority shareholders end strategic review of stakes'. Print Edition | Subscribe