GrameenPhone’s sales reach USD1bn as it prepares for licence showdown

8 Feb 2011

Bangladesh’s leading cellco by subscribers, GrameenPhone (GP), has posted a 14.4% increase in annual revenue to BDT74.73 billion (USD1.03 billion) for 2010, which it attributes to rises in voice traffic, subscription volumes and sales of mobile devices. Mobile data revenue also contributed to the strong turnover growth, increasing by 64% from 2009, the company said, without giving an actual value. The GSM operator’s total revenue in the last quarter of 2010 reached BDT19.59 billion, up 17% year-on-year, and it added 6.7 million net new users to finish December with close to 30 million subscribers, a milestone that it crossed early in the New Year, according to CEO Oddvar Hesjedal. On the downside, the Telenor-backed operator’s 2010 net profit declined by 28.5% to BDT10.71 billion, mainly due to total SIM tax subsidies of BDT6.8 billion, which also pushed its EBITDA margin down to 49.5% from 57% in 2009.

Along with three other Bangladeshi mobile operators, GP’s cellular licence will expire on 10 November 2011, in view of which, the country’s regulatory authorities published a renewal framework in January. GP is evaluating the guidelines as per the framework and will provide feedback to the regulators as per an agreed timeline. In GP’s opinion given in a press release though, ‘the 2G renewal fees and astronomically high price of spectrum allocation proposed by the regulator is unheard of in the world and makes the telecom business in Bangladesh and future dividends to shareholders uncertain.’ Hesjedal did add a positive note, however, saying that ‘we believe GP and the regulators will be on a common platform when it comes to licence renewal and spectrum pricing to secure the best interest of [Bangladeshi] people, especially from the remote and rural areas.’

Bangladesh, GrameenPhone,

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