KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), the leading provider of telecom and ICT services in the country, has announced its financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2023. The announcement was made during a Board of Directors’ meeting held in Islamabad on April 17.

During the first quarter of 2023, PTCL Group sustained its momentum and strengthened its position as the leading integrated telecom service provider in Pakistan. Despite the ongoing challenging macroeconomic conditions, the Group achieved a 23.2 percent growth in its revenue compared to the same period of last year. This substantial growth in revenue is primarily attributable to strong performance in the fixed broadband, mobile data, business solutions, and banking services.

The adverse effects of macroeconomic challenges that emerged in the year 2022 continued to affect businesses in 2023 as well. With continuing increase in the energy and fuel tariffs, telecom operators are faced with significant challenges to provide quality services to their consumers at an affordable price point.

Pakistan’s balance of payment issues and restrictions imposed by the State Bank of Pakistan on LC opening have impacted the network roll-out timelines of the operators and also resulted in a significant devaluation of PKR against foreign currencies. This deteriorating rupee-dollar parity, rising interest rates and additional taxes on telecom operators, over and above the normal corporate tax, have severely affected the profitability. To mitigate the effects of these challenging issues, policy intervention by the government is required to provide much needed relief to the sector.

PTCL Group’s revenue of Rs 43.2 billion in Q1, 2023 is 23.2 percent higher as compared to the same period of last year.

The Group’s profitability was, among other factors, particularly affected by the significant bout of devaluation as the Group has unhedged forex liabilities. The Group has posted a net loss of Rs 5.7 billion.

PTCL continued its growth by posting 17.1 percent YoY revenue growth in Q1, 2023.

PTML’s (Ufone) revenue grew by 20.0 percent YoY as compared to Q1, 2022.

U Bank continued its growth momentum and has achieved a 73.0 percent growth in its quarterly revenue over the same period of last year.

PTCL’s revenue of Rs 22.95 billion for the quarter is 17.1 percent higher than Q1 2022, mainly driven by growth in carrier & wholesale and broadband segments.

The company has posted an operating profit of Rs 1.5 billion with a 54.7 percent growth over last year and a net profit of Rs 5.5 billion for the quarter. Increase in non-operating income, due to translation gain on the Company’s forex denominated receivables, dividend income from a subsidiary and gain on disposal of obsolete assets due to upgrade and fiberization of network, played a significant role in achieving 187.2 percent increase in the company’s net profit as compared to same period of last year.

PTCL further strengthened its flag ship FTTH brand, ‘Flash Fiber’, by acquiring the highest net adds in the industry, this was possible through exceptional customer experience and aggressive expansion of fiber network across the country. The rapid rollout of FTTH and strong performance in the carrier & wholesale segments ensured PTCL’s topline growth.

PTCL’s recently launched an OTT streaming platform ‘SHOQ’, that provides premium entertainment, sports, and news content to all data users, is bridging the gap for need of high-quality content at an affordable cost. Moreover, PTCL Group partnered with PUBG Mobile and launched the biggest E-Sports gaming competition through its gaming platform ‘GameKey’.

The Group also partnered with DE-CIX to establish Internet Exchange, and Vodafone to introduce end-to-end IoT solutions in Pakistan. PTCL marked International Women’s Day 2023 by launching a dedicated voice package, called SheTalks, for its female customers.

The company’s fixed broadband business achieved 17.4 percent growth in revenue YoY which is primarily attributable to a two-fold increase in Flash Fibre’s revenue and subscribers over comparative quarter. IPTV segment also showed a 6.2 percent revenue growth YoY. Voice and wireless revenue streams have seen a decline due to continued conversion of customers to OTT services and tough competition from cellular operators.

Business services segment continued its momentum sustaining market leadership in IP bandwidth, cloud, data centre, and other ICT services segments. PTCL’s enterprise business grew by 12.1 percent as compared to last year, while carrier and wholesale business continued its growth momentum and achieved 36.9 percent overall revenue growth. International voice revenue has increased by 22.7% as compared to last year. Despite the slowdown of economic activity, overall Business Solutions revenue has shown a remarkable growth of 27.2% on year-on-year basis.

Being the national telecom carrier and connectivity backbone in Pakistan, PTCL Group strives to provide innovative solutions to accelerate growth for a ‘Digital Pakistan’ through robust telecommunication infrastructure and a diverse portfolio of services with enhanced customer experience. PTCL collaborated with the Ministry of Federal Education to develop an app called Teleschool Pakistan, which aims to provide free digital learning for students. The launch of this app by the Prime Minister of Pakistan in March attracted widespread attention across Pakistan.

Continuing its growth trajectory, Ufone recorded an impressive 20.0 percent YoY increase in its revenue. Ufone has recently gained a momentous milestone of achieving 24 million subscribers resulting in a 0.4 percentage point increase in market share. Network modernization activities, carried out in the first quarter of 2023, resulted in better customer experience for Ufone subscribers. With this improved customer experience, growth in engagement acquisition numbers and better data speeds, Ufone has achieved the 2nd highest customer net adds in the industry during the first quarter. Ufone 4G recently launched a WhatsApp service for a hassle-free customer experience, collaborated with Nestlé Pakistan Limited to establish an advanced customer service solution for Ufone’s BPO operations and partnered with Islamabad United for PSL8.

Despite an extremely tough macroeconomic environment, U Bank, the microfinance and branchless banking subsidiary of PTCL, continued its growth trajectory and has achieved a remarkable 73.0 percent growth in revenue and an impressive 64.5 percent growth in net profit over the comparative quarter of last year, while maintaining a strong balance sheet position. The bank stands resolute in its commitment towards financial and social inclusion, utilizing its extensive outreach to provide exceptional services to a diverse clientele across the length and breadth of the country through its rural retail banking, corporate finance & investment banking, Islamic banking, urban retail banking, corporate banking, and digital banking canvases.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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