Singtel posts decades-low annual profit, eyes new growth strategy

A man using his mobile phone passes a Singtel signage at their head office in Singapore.
PHOTO: Reuters

SINGAPORE - Singapore Telecommunications Ltd posted its lowest net profit in at least two decades on exceptional losses and outlined a strategy to focus on areas such as 5G and develop new growth engines in information-communication technologies.

Singtel, Southeast Asia’s largest telecoms operator, reported that annual net profit halved to $554 million - the lowest since at least 1998. Underlying net profit, which excludes exceptional items, was down 30 per cent year-on-year to $1.73 billion.

Singtel recorded exceptional charges of about $1.18 billion for the full year, mostly related to impairment charges on its investments in digital marketing arm Amobee and cyber-security business Trustwave. It had flagged the charges earlier this month.

As part of its new strategic direction, Singtel is also exploring options to leverage its infrastructure assets “to unlock latent value and drive growth.”

It currently holds a portfolio of infrastructure assets including towers, satellites, subsea cables and data centres across the region. Singtel has already begun a partial sale via auction of its Australian subsidiary Optus’ towers.

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“This strategic reset is the most significant move in recent years to refocus the business and capitalise on technology proliferation and large-scale digitalisation,” said CEO Yuen Kuan Moon, who took on the top job in January.

Singtel will realign its core business to drive 5G market share in Singapore and Australia, including by growing digital businesses in adjacent lifestyle sectors as well as enterprise and cloud solutions.

Its ICT subsidiary NCS will expedite growth in the enterprise sector, building on its services to the public sector.