Malaysian telco talks up quarterly growth at its domestic business

Axiata on Thursday posted a solid set of financial results for the period to the end of September, but the figures show there is still work to be done at its domestic business.

The Malaysia-based telecoms group reported revenue of 6.2 billion ringgit (€1.3 billion) in the third quarter, up by 13.6% on the same period in 2016, while EBITDA grew by 18.4% to MYR2.48 billion.

For the first nine months of the year revenue increased by 15% to MYR18.14 billion and earnings rose by 14.4 to MYR6.9 billion.

"Celcom and XL continue to show improvements in revenue and EBITDA, while Smart maintains its overall stellar performance despite [a] sharp increase in price competition," the telco said, in a statement accompanying the results.

Axiata operates as Celcom in its home market, and uses the XL and Smart brands in Indonesia and the Philippines respectively.

Celcom has been a cause for concern for Axiata. The business reported flat EBITDA in the first nine months at MYR1.72 billion, while revenue fell by almost 2% to MYR4.87 billion. However, the company noted that revenue increased by 1.5% in Q3, driven by strong growth in the data segment, underpinning a 19.9% EBITDA increase.

"I am encouraged with the quarter-on-quarter improvements at Celcom, although there is still more work to be done," Jamaludin Ibrahim, Axiata CEO, said.

"Likewise, XL has been successfully executing on its transformation strategies and our other mobile opcos remained on a strong growth course," Ibrahim said.

"edotco’s sustained performance and drive for operational efficiencies are starting to significantly contribute to the group’s financial performance," he added.

Axiata is in the process of acquiring a portfolio of telecoms towers in Pakistan via its edotco towers business. The deal got the green light from Pakistan’s Competition Commission earlier this month, but still requires other regulatory approvals.