SingTel FY profit tumbles

Optus parent Singapore Telecommunications Ltd has earmarked up to $S2 billion ($1.7 billion) for digital acquisitions over the next three years after posting a fall of almost half a billion dollars in net profit for the fiscal year to March.

Optus parent Singapore Telecommunications Ltd has earmarked up to $S2 billion ($1.7 billion) for digital acquisitions over the next three years after posting a fall of almost half a billion dollars in net profit for the fiscal year to March.

Shares in the company have lifted by 2% to $3.11 at 1152 AEST.

Dual-listed SingTel's net profit for the year to 31 March fell 12% to $S3.51 billion ($2.98 billion), from $S3.99 billion in the previous corresponding period, largely on one-off losses led by a $S225 million hit from the divestment of Warid Pakistan.

Underlying net profit fell 2% to $S3.61 billion.

SingTel group chief executive Chua Sock Koong said the result was "resilient" and had paved the way for the group to allocate up to $S2 billion over the next three years to pursue strategic digital acquisitions.

"These investments may register losses in the short term, which reflect their investment phase, but we are confident of seeing results in the middle to long term," she said.

Revenue for the period fell to $S18.183 billion, from $S18.825 billion, on a drop-off in subsdiary Optus Mobile's takings, and the strong Singaporean dollar.

Optus' revenue fell to $A8.934 billion, from $A9,368 year-on-year.

Australian operations accounted for 31% of SingTel's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

SingTel will pay a final ordinary dividend of 16.8 Singapore cents a share, up on the 15.8 cents paid last fiscal year.

Other one-off costs that hit the group's net profit result were $S101 million in "workforce restructuring" costs at Optus, including job cuts, and its share of the $S114 million accelerated depreciation taken by Globe Telcom’s from its network and IT transformation. SingTel has a 47% stake in globe.

The results were issued as speculation mounted that private equity outfit TPG Capital was in the running to buy Optus's $2-billion plus satellite business.

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