KUALA LUMPUR (IndoTelko) - Axiata Group Berhad (Axiata) will continue to focus and invest on data which will be the main driver for growth.
"Celcom and XL in particular, have seen data contribution to revenue continuously grow year on year and we expect this to continue in 2014,” said President dan Group Chief Executive Officer Axiata Group Berhad Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim.
For Axiata, 2014 will be an important year for transformation beyond a traditional telco. The company strategy to deliver long-term growth by enhancing the efficiencies of the core business and creating new growth platforms in the digital space is tracking well. But this strategy will have an impact in the short term but necessary in order to sustain business growth in the burgeoning data space.
The Group faced a challenging 2013 due to competition, adverse forex movements and data investments in Indonesia. "Nevertheless, I am pleased to note that the Group still managed to end the year in a position of strength, sustaining our growth momentum now for the 5th consecutive year," he added.
The Group managed to sustain underlying performance for the 5th consecutive year. Most Operating Companies (OpCos) performed well with the Group posting solid revenue growth of 4.1%. PATAMI (profit after tax and minority interests) grew 1.5% despite forex impact of RM201 million as well as significant capex and opex investments in data and new initiatives.
the Group recording revenue growth of 4.1% year-on-year (YoY6) to RM18.4 billion. Weakening currencies as well as increased challenges at XL did however impact revenue.
The Indonesian Rupiah declined by 8% against the Malaysian Ringgit in 2013. At constant currency Group revenue growth would have been 6.7%.
Excluding XL, which saw flat revenue due to intense competition, Group revenue would have been up 11.1%, testament to the excellent performance by Celcom, Dialog, Robi and Smart.
The Group's EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) dipped by 2.1% to RM7.3 billion. At constant currency, EBITDA would have been stable at 0.6%.
PATAMI in the period was up 1.5% or 2.2% at constant currency mainly due to strong performance of Celcom and Robi.
Groupâ€Ÿs total subscriber base expanded to close to 244 million, up 19% from a year ago, with strong growth at XL and Idea, making the Group one of the largest telcos in the region. Axiata ended the year in a position of strength with RM6.4 billion in cash and maintained healthy balance sheet, a significant achievement amidst a volatile economic backdrop. Axiataâ€Ÿs Gross Debt to EBITDA ratio is now at 1.85x.
Axiata announced an accumulative increase payout in dividends of 22 sen per share (single tier including interim dividend of 8 sen per share paid last year), a 75% payout which marks a 5 percentage point increase from 2012â€Ÿs ordinary dividend payout ratio of 70%.
Celcom closed the year with another excellent performance. Subscribers surpassed 13 million making Celcom the no 1 player in the industry in terms of subscribers. Revenue remained healthy, growing faster than the market, up a robust 4% YoY to RM8 billion driven by data and mobile broadband. Non-voice grew 3% YoY amounting to a 34% contribution to revenue.
Celcom defended its market dominance in mobile broadband closing the year with 1.2 million subscribers, a growth of 17% YoY. The year saw strong growth in data services (excluding SMS and VAS), now contributing 17% to revenue, a growth of 16% from 2012. The uplift was driven by increased smartphone penetration and positive response towards attractive offerings of data services. Smartphone users increased by 48% YoY, with mobile data excluding dongles growing 47%. At 6 million, data users now represent 46% of Celcomâ€Ÿs total subscribers.
Celcom continued to generate healthy cash balance and saw 12% PATAMI growth, highest in the industry, to RM2.1 billion. EBITDA for the period rose 3% to RM3.6 billion, from aggressive pursuit of smart spend initiatives and cost saving measures.
For 2014, Celcom will enhance its focus on mobile data. Work has already begun on improving network quality and capacity for better customer data experience which saw Celcom investing RM923 million for capex mainly on network modernization, LTE and IT transformation.
Meanwhile, XL saw a very challenging 2013 with increased competition and forex pressures. Despite this XL recorded stable revenue of IDR21.4 trillion, up by 0.3%, driven by strong data traction with data revenue growth of 16% YoY. Non-voice revenue contributed 54% of total usage revenue, an increase from 50% a year ago.
Data remains the fastest growing segment and key contributor with 23% contribution to usage revenue compared to 20% in the previous year. In addition, data traffic saw high growth of 142% YoY with data subscribers now at 33 million or more than half of the total base.
In 2013, investment in data infrastructure, to capture the growing opportunity in data, remained a key strategy although this did have a short term impact on financials. In FY2013, XL rolled out 15% more 3G base stations from the year before and now offers the second largest 3G coverage in Indonesia. In addition, XL continued its effort to upgrade its network through modernization in majority 2G and 3G sites across Indonesia, to deliver better network speed, capacity and improve cost efficiency.
Axiata is one of the largest Asian telecommunication companies. Axiata has controlling interests in mobile operators in Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Cambodia with significant strategic stakes in India and Singapore. In addition, the Malaysian grown holding company has stakes in non-mobile telecommunication operations in Thailand and Pakistan.
The Groupâ€Ÿs mobile subsidiaries and associates operate under the brand name Celcom in Malaysia, XL(Indonesia), Dialog in Sri Lanka, Robi in Bangladesh, Smart in Cambodia, Idea in India and M1 in Singapore.(es)