SingTel Q3 profit down as it absorbs Optus

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) posted record revenue of S$4.91 billion (A$5.25 billion) in its third quarter ended December 31, 2001, as it included figures from its Australian unit SingTel Optus for the first time.

SingTel revenue without Optus's S$1.21 billion contribution reached S$3.71 billion, 1.2 percent higher than in the same quarter last year. Net profit fell 24.7 percent to S$1.45 billion, SingTel said in a statement Friday.

In Singapore, data and Internet services were the strongest area of SingTel's business, growing 20.8 percent over the third quarter last year, and now provide one-quarter of the company's local revenue. Mobile phone revenue grew 4 percent over the previous year but revenue from international telephone services fell 8.1 percent, according to the statement.

In Australia, where Optus is the second-largest operator after Telstra, the company is well-positioned to exploit an expected industry consolidation, according to SingTel President Lee Hsien Yang. Optus lost A$39 million during the third quarter, but showed double-digit growth in mobile revenue and data and IP (Internet protocol) services revenue, according to the statement.

The two companies will be able to use the newly-completed US$2.1 billion C2C regional submarine cable network for low-cost bandwidth and extra redundancy, which will help to grow the profitability of their regional data business, SingTel said.

SingTel's other associate companies, Belgacom SA, Thailand's Advanced Info Services Plc (AIS), and Globe Telecom Inc. of the Philippines, contributed 12.7 percent of SingTel profits. With strong subscriber growth at both AIS and Globe, SingTel now has almost 20 million total mobile subscribers across the region, the largest of any operator outside of China and Japan, the company said.

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