GP profits soar despite hurdles | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:44 AM, April 25, 2019

GP profits soar despite hurdles

Grameenphone yesterday reported Tk 890 crore in net profit for the first quarter of 2019, up 25.6 percent year-on-year, as the indomitable operator continues to go from strength-to-strength in spite of its regulatory tussles of late.

The carrier, which has been locked in a tug of war with the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, has secured Tk 3,490 crore revenue in the first quarter -- its highest yet in its 22-year history.

The amount is an increase of 11.6 percent from a year earlier.

The lone listed mobile operator, which held its annual general meeting on Tuesday, announced a 280 percent cash dividend for 2018, according to a press release issued yesterday.

And yet, the series of good news could not lift its stock price: it closed at Tk 367.90, down 0.41 percent from the previous day.

“We delivered a strong performance in the first three months of 2019 amid many challenges in the regulatory environment,” said Michael Patrick Foley, chief executive officer of Grameenphone, in the press release.

In February, the country’s leading mobile operator was declared the significant market power (SMP) operator and with it came a set of restrictions, only one of which has come into effect as of now.

Then earlier this month, the BTRC made a claim of Tk 12,579.95 crore from the operator over unpaid dues after revised audit.

The BTRC’s quality of service report, which came out during the quarter, was also not flattering for the operator.

And yet, thanks to an uptake in 4G conversion and healthy growth in voice revenue, the operator logged in solid performance during the quarter, according to Foley.

The carrier acquired 13 lakh new subscribers during the quarter, up 1.8 percent from the previous quarter.

It also got 11 lakh new internet subscribers, meaning 51.6 percent of its total users now consume mobile internet.

However, its data revenue has declined to Tk 690 crore for the first time in a quarter. Intense market competition has pushed the operator to reduce its data price though the total number of data users and usage volume have both increased.

“We see continued gain of quality subscribers and with our investment in network rollout, we are optimistic in delivering profitable growth going forward,” said Karl Erik Broten, chief financial officer of Grameenphone.

During the quarter, Grameenphone invested Tk 420 crore for network coverage and modernisation.

The company also paid out Tk 2,030 crore, or 58.1 percent of its total revenue, to the national exchequer in the form of taxes, value-added tax, 4G licence and spectrum assignment fees.

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