SingTel Q3 net profit rises 5.5% on strong contributions from associates

Singapore Telecom (SingTel) said Thursday its net profit rose 6 per cent year on year in January-December, but a strong local dollar pared down overseas earnings. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 
Singapore Telecom (SingTel) said Thursday its net profit rose 6 per cent year on year in January-December, but a strong local dollar pared down overseas earnings. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 

SingTel posted a 5.5 per cent rise in third-quarter net profit over a year ago, due to strong contributions from its regional associates.

Earnings would have climbed more if the Singapore dollar had not risen sharply against the home currencies of its associates, SingTel said on Thursday.

The telco's net profit for the three months ended Dec 31 last year was $872 million on revenue of $4.26 billion.

Revenue declined 7 per cent from the quarter a year ago, dragged down by its declining Australian telco business and a "generally cautious business climate".

But SingTel's share of pre-tax earnings from its associates climbed 10.9 per cent in the third quarter over the previous year to $539 million, as a result of robust performances from its associates.

SingTel owns 100 per cent of Australia's Optus and smaller stakes in India's Bharti Airtel, Thailand's Advanced Info Service and Indonesia's Telkomsel, among others.

In the three months to Dec 31 last year, the Australian dollar fell 9 per cent against the Singdollar, while the Indian rupee slid 12 per cent and the Indonesian rupiah declined 18 per cent, SingTel said. Excluding these currency movements, its net profit for the quarter would have risen 12.9 per cent.

The telco's Singapore mobile business revenue was up 5.2 per cent to $525 million as it continues to add subscribers. Its mobile subscriber base here grew by 29,000 during the quarter, reaching a total of 3.96 million.

Of these, 899,000 customers were on 4G plans, which have a tiered pricing model based on data use. About 14 per cent of its tiered customer base exceeded their monthly data bundles and paid more for data usage during the quarter.

During the quarter, the telco also added 4,000 mio TV customers, increasing its base to 418,000. It added 3,000 fixed broadband users, expanding its customer base to 567,000.

"The Singapore consumer business is driving growth with targeted home and mobile strategies," said Ms Chua Sock Koong, SingTel group chief executive.

"Revenue per household and the number of customers on triple bundles continued to increase. Mobile customers in Singapore and Australia are upgrading their data plans and enjoying a faster data network."

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