Singtel’s annual profit plunges 65% on Bharti Airtel snag

FILE PHOTO: A woman using a mobile phone walks behind a Singtel signage at their head office in Singapore February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

(Reuters) – Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (STEL.SI) on Thursday said full-year net profit plummeted 65.2% as it faced tough competition in Australia and took a S$1.80 billion (1.04 billion pounds) hit related to its stake in Bharti Airtel Ltd’s (BRTI.NS).

Singtel, Southeast Asia’s largest telco, reported net profit of S$1.07 billion for the year ended March, compared with S$3.10 billion a year earlier. Underlying net profit, which excludes exceptional items, fell 13% to S$2.46 billion.

The company almost halved its final dividend to 5.45 Singapore cents a share, down from 10.7 cents announced last year.

Weakness in the January-March quarter was exacerbated due to continuing data price competition and soft consumer sentiment in Australia, along with lower equipment sales and margins, the company said.

Singtel’s operating revenue for the year slipped 2% to S$16.54 billion as the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in February pressured operations further.

The company did not provide guidance for the financial year ending March 2021 due to heightened uncertainty stoked by the spread of COVID-19, the potentially fatal illness caused by coronavirus.

Singtel, which is effectively the largest shareholder in Bharti Airtel, had to make provisions in its full-year results in relation to the Indian telco making payouts for spectrum charges and licence fees.

Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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