SingTel boosts profit 26 percent on flat revenue

In its first year in a fully deregulated home market, former monopoly carrier Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) increased profit 26.4 percent to S$2.32 billion (US$1.27 billion) for its fiscal 2001 year ended March 31, 2001. The profit rise came despite revenue rising just 1.2 percent to S$4.92 billion, SingTel said in a statement Thursday.

Strong growth in the company's public data and private network businesses offset a sharp decline in international telephone revenues, caused by lower rates in a newly liberalized market. International telephony remains the single biggest revenue earner at 24 percent of total revenue, followed by the data and network business at 22 percent.

Although SingTel recorded subscriber growth of 45 percent in its cellular market, revenue only grew 11 percent, due to increased competition in a market with almost 60 percent penetration.

The company's overseas investments are becoming increasingly important, SingTel said in the statement. Revenues from overseas now make up 29 percent of the company's overall revenue and contributed S$349 million profit. SingTel's major overseas investments include stakes in Belgium's Belgacom SA and Globe Telecom Inc. of the Philippines.

These investments will be overshadowed in next year's results by the inclusion of figures from Australian carrier Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd. (CWO), which SingTel is buying for US$8.5 billion.

CWO is almost the same size as SingTel. It recently reported full-year revenue of A$4.9 billion (US$2.57 billion) although its profit was much thinner at A$424 million.

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