SingTel – BT

SingTel mobile subscribers growing

Group customer base up 35% year on year, with S’pore base up 26%

DEFYING weak market conditions, Singapore Telecommunications posted sturdy growth in both local and regional mobile subscribers last year.

Its combined regional mobile customer base (including for Singapore) reached 232 million as at Dec 31, 2008, a jump of 35 per cent or 61 million from a year ago, South-east Asia’s largest teleco said. This was a 7.3 per cent increase from a quarter ago.

For Singapore itself, the number of mobile subscribers grew 26 per cent from a year ago to 2.94 million at the end of 2008.

Of the 68,000 new mobile customers added during the quarter to Dec 31, 2008, 30,000 were postpaid net additions with continued good take-up of the Apple iPhone.

SingTel said the the demand for third generation (3G) services in Singapore remains strong. In the calendar fourth quarter, 71,000 3G mobile subscribers were added, bringing the total 3G subscriber base here to 1.14 million by end-2008.

Elsewhere, the group’s regional associates also reported strong growth in customer base.

‘Despite stiff competition in their home markets and the global economic crisis, the six regional associates continued to post double-digit customer growth of between 13 per cent and 55 per cent compared to a year ago,’ SingTel said in a statement.

Bharti, SingTel’s Indian associate, posted the biggest jump in customer numbers among the associates. Its mobile base jumped 55 per cent year-on-year and 11 per cent quarter-on-quarter to 85.7 million customers. Its net addition of 8.2 million mobile customers in the quarter ended Dec 31, 2008 was also its highest-ever quarterly growth.

Optus, SingTel’s wholly owned Australian unit, expanded its mobile customer base by 9 per cent from a year ago to 7.63 million as at Dec 31. It attracted 213,000 new customers in the quarter, reflecting the success of its innovative services and plans, together with its expanded distribution channels and 3G network.

Indonesian associate Telkomsel’s total mobile customer base grew 36 per cent year-on-year to 65.3 million at end-2008. It added 4.8 million customers during the quarter, thanks to the re-launch of the popular mobile subscription plan simPATI PeDe in the preceding quarter. Even the more mature markets of Thailand and the Philippines saw year-on-year growth of 13.4 per cent and 21.6 per cent in mobile subscribers at AIS and Globe respectively. Pakistan associate Warid and PBTL in Bangladesh also posted double-digit growth in mobile customers from a year ago.

SingTel is announcing its fiscal third quarter ended Dec 31, 2008 this morning.

CIMB-GK is expecting its core net profit to further decline to $760-790 million from $801 million in fiscal Q2, while DBS Vickers expects SingTel to report underlying net profit of $835 million, a 10 per cent decline from a year ago but a 4 per cent increase from the preceding quarter.

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