South-East Asia's biggest telecom firm SingTel on Thursday reported a 3 per cent fall in first quarter net profit to 916 million Singapore dollars (SGD), impacted by the smaller contribution from Indian associate Bharti airtel and reduced tax holiday benefits in that country.
Revenues of Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel), which operates in 20 countries and has about a one-third stake in India's largest mobile services provider Bharti airtel, rose 7 per cent to SGD 4.61 billion for the quarter ended June 30, said SingTel.
Though Bharti's operations in South Asia, covering India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, reported revenue and EBITDA growth, led by an increase in its customer base and stabilising tariffs in India, the Indian operations recorded higher licence fee amortisation and interest expenses as a result of the rollout of 3G services.
Overall, including losses from Bharti Africa and the weaker Indian rupee , Bharti's ordinary pre-tax contribution to the group declined 27 per cent to SGD 154 million, said SingTel.
In Africa, Bharti was steadily growing its customer and usage levels, with corresponding improvements in revenue and EBITDA.
It has been a year since Bharti began its operations in Africa.
Its transformation and restructuring plans were progressing well and Africa was positioned to deliver further growth for Bharti, said SingTel.
Mr Hui Weng Cheong, Singtel CEO - International, said: "In India, stabilising tariffs lifted revenue and EBITDA for Bharti's South Asia operations."
Comparatively, businesses in Singapore, Australia and Indonesia recorded healthy revenue growth and demonstrated strength in operations despite keen competition.
SingTel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said: "Our geographical diversity helped reduce the impact of foreign exchange volatility on our quarter's results, with the stronger Australian dollar offsetting the effects of weaker regional currencies.
"Our Singapore and Australian businesses continue to perform well, especially in the mobile segments. We will continue to invest for sustained growth into the future.
"Many of our new initiatives are in the early growth phase and we are on track to transform ourselves beyond a traditional communications company."
The group and its regional mobile associates had another quarter of strong customer growth and now have 416 million mobile customers, a 19 per cent increase from a year ago.