Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has reported a 9.6% fall in net income for its fiscal third quarter to 31 December 2011, blaming the drop on a weak performance from India-based affiliate Bharti Airtel and on currency gains in the Singapore dollar versus regional currencies. Southeast Asia’s largest telecoms operator by subscribers and revenue today posted net profit of SGD902 million (USD715.4 million) for the three months under review, down from SGD998 million in the corresponding year-earlier period, below industry estimates of profit of SGD922 million in a survey conducted by Reuters. Underlying net income fell 7.6% year-on-year to SGD895 million from SGD968 million. The group’s result financial results have been pulled down in part by the impact of Bharti Airtel’s USD9 billion acquisition of a number of African mobile phone operations in 2010. In a statement SingTel said: ‘The strong gain in mobile customers in Singapore during the quarter led to higher acquisition and retention costs, while contributions from the regional mobile associates declined due to their weaker currencies and 3G losses from Bharti India.’
In operational terms, SingTel saw its consolidated mobile customer base climb 13.2% year-on-year to 433.54 million in the three months ended 31 December 2011, compared to 382.81 million at end-2010, driven by strong performances from India-based Bharti Airtel and its Ozzie unit Optus. The Australian unit reported strong demand for both pre- and post-paid services, with the former increasing by a net 69,000 in the last quarter and contract users climbing by a 113,000 for a year-end total of 9.44m. Meanwhile, the Indian venture, which also has widespread operations in Africa, ended 2011 with 232.95 million users, up from 227.04 million three months earlier and 199.61 million at 31 December 2010. Other strong performances came from Telkomsel in Indonesia with 107.02 million at the end of last year, up from 94.01 million a year earlier, and the group’s national wireless operator SingTel Mobile, with 3.55 million (3.23 million).