Exchange rate helps boost SingTel revenue, profits

Singapore Telecommunications announced a 13.9 percent rise in net profits for its second quarter ended Sept. 30 2003, on revenue up 15.7 percent over the year-earlier period.

A strong rise in the value of the Australian dollar which boosted the contribution from subsidiary SingTel Optus Pty. Ltd. was a major reason for the improved figures, SingTel said.

Revenue for the quarter reached S$2.85 billion [B] (US$1.63 billion [B]) compared to S$2.46 billion in 2002. Net profit this year reached S$473 million [M] compared to S$415 million [M] last year.

The group now earns 73 percent of its revenue from outside its home base of Singapore. Optus is the biggest contributor with revenue of $1.57 billion for the quarter and net profit of $90 million.

SingTel said its Asian associate companies in the mobile services sector performed strongly in the quarter, with a 49 percent increase in combined subscriber numbers at Thailand's Advanced Info Service, India's Bharti Group, Indonesia's PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) and Globe Telecom of the Philippines.

Together with SingTel and Optus subscribers, the group now has a total subscriber base of 40.8 million, the largest for a single operator outside Japan and China, SingTel said.

SingTel still has enough cash to pursue possible new investments, and these will be focused in the Asian region and in companies where SingTel can take an active management role, the company said.

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