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SLT Group revenue recorded at Rs. 24.7 bn in Q1 2021, net profit improved by 14%

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From left: Rohan Fernando- Group Chairman-SLT, Lalith Seneviratne- Group CEO-SLT, Kiththi Perera- CEO-SLT and Chandika Vitharena- Acting CEO-Mobitel

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, 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, 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, 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, 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.”



Business

CSE planning new product lines to attract investors in greater numbers

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By Lynn Ockersz

The CSE is planning to attract a greater number of investors to the stock market this year through the introduction of some new product lines. In order to increase the choice of instruments available to equity investors, the CSE intends to focus in the immediate term on instruments, such as, stock borrowing and lending and regulated short-selling, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike said.

The latter instruments would help in generating more liquidity and trading among equity investors, not only in instances when the market is on its way up but also in a declining market as well, CEO Bandaranaike told The Island Financial Review in an exclusive interview recently.

The CEO also said that the CSE is aiming at leveraging the corporate debt market through the initiation of some new products. For example, Green Bonds, Perpetual Bonds and the facilitation of secondary trading of corporate bonds via repo trading.

Asked to indicate as to how these instruments would help the bourse going forward, Mr. Bandaranaike said that stock borrowing and lending, for instance, would facilitate and enable regulated short selling which will have the effect of increasing liquidity and trading among all categories of equity investors.

This will create opportunities for traders to make use of market volatility. Besides, investors holding long term portfolios could lend their stock and earn an interest with least effort on their part.

Asked to elaborate on the importance of Green Bonds, the CEO said that institutional investors in particular are currently focusing on ESG projects; that is, investors that are sensitive to environmental, social and governance concerns. Accordingly, the CSE would be catering to some important investor needs through the latter projects.

Meanwhile, in response to the question on how the digitization initiatives of the CSE have helped in ushering a more robust share market in Sri Lanka, CSE’s Chief Information Officer Chandrakanth Jayasinghe said it is the aim of the CSE to give progressive digital exposure to investors. There are two dimensions to be considered here the CIO said. First, more and more important features have been added to the CSE’s digital mobile App over the last two years.

The CIO added: ‘A revamped mobile App is now at hand to enable quicker and informed investment decisions. All the information required by the investor is now available via this App to enable him to enter the market. For example, we are linked to the Department of Registration of Persons. Digital on-boarding and digital signing etc have been enabled via the app. On a full digital basis investors can now interact with the CSE.

‘The investor is now connected to the CDS E-Connect via the CSE and the investor could access his/her stock portfolio, for instance, and access his/her monthly statements. They could also make changes to their profiles such their address changes via the mobile App. Research reports of brokers could be accessed by the same means, nominations could be effected through the same mechanism. It’s a total change: a 360-degree info hub has been created through the App.

‘Secondly, the CSE is a more agile digital organization. For instance, most of our back-end functions are fully robotized. AI is used in many operations. We use AI for compliance operations.

‘We are saddled with very much less paperwork. Over 90% of all account openings are effected through our mobile App. Most paper-based formalities have been done away with.’

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SriLankan Airlines unveils new and improved mobile App

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SriLankan Airlines has unveiled a new and improved mobile app that is designed for optimum user-friendliness. The enhanced app will afford customers greater ease and flexibility in managing their flight bookings, purchasing value-added services, enrolling for a FlySmiLes account and performing a variety of other tasks.

The new app provides greater autonomy for Customers through added features that are exclusive to the app. Customers will be able to choose their in-flight meal; reserve seats; change travel dates and sectors; buy value added services such as excess baggage, travel insurance and duty-free items; and check-in for flights well in advance.

The ability to manage flight bookings, even while on the move, remains entirely with passengers who will be empowered to exercise greater control in shaping their journey independently and dynamically. Customers’ in-app experience is inclined to be further enhanced with the new ‘My Trips’ feature. My Trips will organize and present important information that a customer requires for an upcoming flight in a timely fashion on the app’s homepage.

The homepage includes other up-to-minute information on the flight schedule and allows users to search and stay on top of the departure and arrival times of flights. Customers can also stay updated and not miss out on the latest deals and promotional fares.

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Brandix Manusathkara Thilina 2022

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Brandix Apparel Ltd., gave hope to 16,824 children of the Brandix family by gifting them school essentials including stationery and schoolbags necessary for the new school year, under its ‘Manusathkara Thilina’ 2022 initiative recently.

 Understanding the current need to support our team members, especially during the current crisis of rising stationery costs, the children of 10,933 Brandix Associates were recipients of Brandix’s unstinting efforts to inspire and support education for all. The 2022 programme is being held for the 7th consecutive year where children from pre-school to Grade 13 received stationery packs.

Malika Samaraweera, Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Brandix Apparel noted, “The beginning of the new school year is eagerly anticipated and exciting for all students. However, we realise that our employees, who are the backbone of our enterprise, are facing a daunting challenge to provide their children these essential items. We firmly believe in taking care of our communities and this year’s Manusathkara Thilina programme ensures these children have the tools and opportunity to learn and grow.”

 Begun in 2016, the Manusathkara School Essentials initiative seeks to drive home the importance of education among the children of Brandix employees. To-date, over 37,000 children have benefitted from the programme. The educational hampers gifted to the children comprise of stationery and other school necessities, enabling their success for the foreseeable future.

With the aim of driving social sustainability, the inspired team at Brandix continues their work towards Equal Opportunity and the Right to Education for All. Recognising that today’s challenges are wide-ranging and incredibly tough for many families, the school essential packs will enrich the lives of the beneficiary children and sustain their school education.

Supporting Sri Lanka’s aspiring youth towards continuity in their education, Brandix has also initiated an annual scholarship scheme under its ‘Manusathkara University Scholarship’ programme. Children who are high performers in the Advanced Level Examinations within the Brandix Model Villages are awarded scholarships to pursue their higher education and contribute towards Sri Lanka’s future workforce. The ‘Model Village’ concept was developed by Brandix to support the wellbeing of communities within a 10km radius of the company’s facilities.

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