Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) Group released its financial results for the first quarter of 2021, with a remarkable 14.3% year-on-year growth in Profit After Tax (PAT) to Rs. 2.1 Bn.
The Group revenue went up to Rs. 24.7 Bn for the period with a 11.4% year-on-year growth, strongly underpinned by the growth in revenues of FTTH, 4G LTE, mobile broadband services, PEOTV services and carrier domestic services. International voice revenue reflected a de-growth while international revenues from global transit and global data soared compared to the same period last year.
The EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) of the Group improved to Rs. 9.7 Bn, a 13.6% year-on-year growth, lifting the EBITDA margin up to 39.4% from 38.6% in the same period last year. The surge in revenue largely contributed to the EBITDA growth. The growing capital expenditure in order to align with the global technological trends pushed the Depreciation and Amortisation of the Group up to Rs. 6.3 Bn, a 18.0% year-on-year increase.
The Operating Profit of the Group stood at Rs. 3.4 Bn, reflecting a 6.3% year-on-year growth resulting from the increase in Group EBITDA which was partly offset by the elevated Depreciation and Amortisation for the period. Interest expenses and finance cost charged to the Profit or Loss Statement increased to Rs. 0.8 Bn for the period under review while the FOREX losses declined to Rs. 0.3 Bn. The Profit Before Tax (PBT) rose to Rs. 2.8 Bn, up by 9.3% over the same period last year.
The growth in EBITDA coupled with the effective collection strategies of the Group almost tripled the Operating Cash Flow of the Group to Rs. 12.2 Bn for the period under review. Further, the Group managed to reduce the Long-Term Borrowings to Rs. 44.9 Bn as at the reporting date.
The holding company of the Group recorded an impressive 13.5% increase in revenue over the same period last year reaching Rs. 14.2 Bn. The PAT of the company went up to Rs. 1.4 Bn, reflecting a 16.2% year-on-year growth.
The mobile arm of the SLT Group, Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd too improved revenue for the quarter by 8.1% year-on-year to Rs. 11.6 Bn. The PAT of Mobitel soared during the period to Rs. 1.5 Bn which is a 65.4% year-on-year growth resulting from the increased revenue and the effective cost management measures.
The Group paid a total amount of Rs. 3.7 Bn as direct and indirect taxes including levies to the Government in the first quarter of 2021.
SLT Group Chairman, Mr. Rohan Fernando announced:
“I am extremely proud of my management team and my staff for delivering yet another solid quarter. Our business continued to accelerate in the first quarter with a double-digit growth in revenues and profits and with a robust operating cash flow. Consolidation of our Group Sales and Marketing under the SLT-MOBITEL unified branding contributed immensely in achieving the success we report in the first quarter. While uncertainty related to Covid-19 remains, we will stay focused on driving growth, building on favourable market trends, improving operational performance and delivering value for all our stakeholders.”
SLT Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lalith Seneviratne remarked:
“Our first quarter financial performance represents a promising start to the year 2021. We commenced the year 2021 with the brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL which is another milestone in SLT Group’s legacy. The strategic journey of the SLT Group towards digital transformation has proven imperative with the present pandemic situation which has also demonstrated the critical role technology plays in everyday life. The Group remains resilient amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic owing to our robust business execution coupled with our attractive product portfolio.”
SLT Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kiththi Perera stated:
“We are successfully progressing with our accelerated fibre expansion programme with an aim to provide ultra-speed Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) connections across the country. This year is pivotal to SLT since in mid-2021, SLT together with its mobile arm Mobitel aims at expanding and upgrading the present 4G network in view of providing an enhanced broadband experience and also to launch a pre-commercial 5G service using 3.5 GHz. In addition, SLT plans to invest in expanding its global network including the upcoming SEA-ME-WE 06 submarine cable system to connect to the world at the speed of Terra Bits per second. The domestic and global network expansions will be complimented by multiple digital initiatives in our efforts to continually improve customer experience and service levels.”
SLT Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Priyantha Fernandez commented:
“During this Covid-19 pandemic situation, SLT has provided an uninterrupted service to the nation and offered innovative yet affordable data packages to facilitate the shift towards work-from-home and study-from-home arrangements. Further, SLT in collaboration with Cisco and Millennium I.T.E.S.P. (Pvt) Ltd launched its new managed SD-WAN services to accelerate digitisation of enterprise and government customers in Sri Lanka. In addition, SLT-MOBITEL extended the PEO TV Go services to our mobile customers too to enjoy their favourite TV programmes.”
Mobitel Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Chandika Vitharana added:
“As the world continues to go through a challenging era due to the ongoing pandemic, SLT-MOBITEL which provides an indispensable and critical service under the prevailing conditions was able to create value to all its stakeholders. As the National Mobile Service Provider, Mobitel, the mobile arm of the SLT Group is aggressively expanding the network to rural areas to ensure no one is left behind in these difficult and challenging times. Many initiatives were carried out during this period to make Broadband accessible to all. Affordable bundle device offers to help increase smartphone penetration, attractive application-based data plans, mobile and home broadband plans to facilitate work-from-home and learn-from-home conditions are a few of the initiatives devised to make Broadband affordable and accessible to all segments of the society according to their needs. While making broadband available to all, SLT-MOBITEL is committed to providing uninterrupted connectivity to the nation during these turbulent times.”
Courtyard by Marriott to debut in Sri Lanka
Marriott International is set to introduce the Courtyard by Marriott brand to Sri Lanka, this year. The hospitality giant has signed an agreement with Colombo City Centre Partners (Private) Limited, part of the Abans Group, for this 164-key hotel, expected to open in late 2021, – according to Business Traveller India.
Located in the heart of Colombo city adjacent to the Beira Lake, Courtyard by Marriott Colombo will feature 164 modern guest rooms and suites. The rooms will be equipped with functional work area, smart amenities, and high-speed internet access, making it an ideal stay option for business and leisure travellers, the Indian magazine stated.
There will be two dining venues – an all-day dining restaurant serving a combination of western dishes, Asian favourites and a host of local delicacies as well as an adjoining Lobby Lounge decked with a full-service bar and a quick-bites menu.
Other amenities include a 24-hour fitness centre, an outdoor swimming pool and three meeting rooms.
Rajeev Menon, president, Asia Pacific (excluding China), Marriott International said:
“We are delighted to strengthen our Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels in Sri Lanka with today’s signing. The signing underscores our long-term commitment to Sri Lanka as a strategically important market, offering the potential to grow our brands and provide customers with more choices.”
Kiran Andicot, regional vice president – Development, South Asia, Marriott International commented, “We are very pleased to collaborate with Abans Group, who share our vision to offer smart, intuitive service and high-quality accommodation in Sri Lanka.”
Further elaborating on the collaboration, Aban Pestonjee, chairperson of Abans Group said:
“We are happy to have forged this strategic business alliance with Marriott International and are keen to see our relationship grow from strength to strength. We eagerly look forward to the opening of the first Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Sri Lanka. We are excited to have Marriott International with us at Colombo City Centre.”
Virtusa appoints Santosh Thomas as CEO
Virtusa Corporation, a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering and IT services and solutions that help clients change and disrupt markets through innovation engineering, yesterday announced the appointment of Santosh Thomas as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Virtusa’s Board of Directors appointed Santosh as successor to the company’s founder, Kris Canekeratne, who announced his transition from the business in May 2021. Santosh joins Virtusa during a time of significant growth and follows the recent appointment of Sander van‘t Noordende to the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Santosh brings more than 20 years of leadership and industry experience to Virtusa. Most recently Santosh served as President of Global Growth Markets at Cognizant where he managed a business with revenues over $4 billion and built multiple billion-dollar businesses in Europe and Asia Pacific in Banking, CommTech and Products & Resources. In his new role, Santosh will help Virtusa drive growth in key markets and continue to be recognized as an employer of choice.
“On behalf of the entire company and the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Kris for his more than two decades of leadership,” said Sander van‘t Noordende. “I would also like to welcome Santosh who brings a stellar track record of client service, leadership, and proven success. Santosh has the vision and experience to take Virtusa’s deep heritage in digital engineering to new levels of growth.”
“I am deeply honored to join Virtusa at this exciting time for our employees, clients and partners,” said Santosh Thomas. “I have admired Kris and Virtusa for fostering a culture of innovation and distinguishing itself as a global leader in helping customers tackle their unique digital transformation challenges. Virtusa has a great brand reputation, an impressive roster of strategic partners, and is well positioned for sustained growth.”
“When I founded Virtusa 25 years ago I had a vision to build a global powerhouse in digital engineering services. And we did just that,” said Kris Canekeratne. “I leave with the confidence that the company and its leadership team have never been stronger and its opportunities have never been greater. I welcome Santosh Thomas to the CEO role and wish him the best in his efforts to lead Virtusa through its next phase of growth.”
Also announced yesterday, Denise Warren has joined Virtusa’s Board of Directors and has been appointed Chairperson of its Audit Committee. Ms. Warren recently retired from her position as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of WakeMed Health & Hospitals, and serves on the boards of Brookdale Senior Living, Computer Programs & Systems Inc., and Rockroom Insurance Group.
No double standards please, on govt’s vehicle import ban: CMTA
Meanwhile, on June 9, The Island published its front page lead story ‘Covid time bonanza: Luxury SUVs for MPs coming after all- LCs opened before Cabinet rescinded its own decision’.
The Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) has expressed its concerns on the decision the government has taken to import 400 vehicles – including 227 luxury SUVs – to a value of Rs. 3.7 billion through the Bank of Ceylon. The Government reversed its earlier decision to cancel the order, citing the fact that the Letters of Credit (LCs) had been already opened and “as the opening of Letters of Credit meant guaranteed payment, Sri Lanka faced the prospect of being blacklisted if a unilateral decision was taken” as per Minister Keheliya Rambukwella’s explanation to the press.
The CMTA notified the government of the same issues and repercussions on international trade as a result of unilaterally dishonouring 216 LCs of its members that had been opened prior to the import ban in March 2020. Totalling Rs. 5.2 billion, these include a considerable number of vehicles ordered by permit holders such as doctors and government officials who are at the forefront fighting the pandemic, some of whom had already sold their existing vehicle, anticipating their new vehicle to arrive shortly. Is it fair to keep these permit holders on hold indefinitely while new luxury SUVs are imported for MPs during the import ban?
Due to these LCs being dishonoured, a total of more than 14,000 vehicles comprising 10,780 Motorcycles, 2640 trishaws and 537 Cars specifically ordered for Sri Lankan market conditions were prohibited from being imported.
The vehicle import ban imposed last year has taken a toll on vehicle buyers by constricting the market at a time when the need for personal transportation is more acute. To make matters worse, the resulting imbalance of demand vs. supply has caused prices of used vehicles skyrocket within a short time span, and has led to unscrupulous activities at the expense of the consumer, such as odometer tampering.
Speaking on behalf of the CMTA, Chairman Yasendra Amerasinghe said, “Considering the rampant increase of COVID-19 cases at this time, with various potent variants of the virus spreading throughout the island, personal mobility represents the safest option for citizens who have no choice but to travel. The CMTA very much agrees with Minister Rambukwella’s statement that cancellation of confirmed LCs will affect the credibility of our banks and country. We strongly urge the government to apply the same standard to LCs for vehicles for government servants including doctors, and the general public as it has applied for luxury SUVs for MPs. We hope that there would be no double standard.”
Furthermore, the CMTA mentioned that it had been reminding the government of a proposal for Quota that It had submitted in March, at the request of the President’s Secretariat, to which no response had been given. This proposal was based on a minimum volume of vehicle imports for the industry to survive until the import ban is lifted.
Concerns were also raised as to how this purchase had been carried out without an open tender, with queries as to whether it complies with government procurement guidelines.
Founded in 1920, the Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) is affiliated to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and is widely accepted as the voice of the Sri Lankan Automotive Industry.
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