a year ago

Forex loss halves Robi's profit in 2022, snatching away its "moment of glory"

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Foreign exchange loss dealt a heavy blow to Robi Axiata's financials as it wiped out 49 per cent of its profit after tax in 2022.

The gradual fall of the taka against the dollar eat up Tk 1.79 billion, cutting down Robi's net profit to Tk 1.83 billion in 2022, the company said in a statement released on Sunday.

The yearly increase in profit has been estimated at 1.3 per cent.

Referring to 25th year of Robi in 2022, Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Sethi said, "Forex loss has deprived us from a stellar year. Our moment of glory was snatched away when profit after tax literally halved due to forex loss."

Apart from the forex loss, the 2 per cent minimum tax in effect since FY22, said Mr Sethi, "felt like the last nail in the coffin".

The telecom operator's revenue rose 5.4 per cent year-on-year to Tk 85.86 billion in 2022.

"On the positive side, we managed to make significant gains out of our optimized cost structure. Going forward we will continue to leverage cost optimization to strengthen our bottom-line."

Raising concerns over the business in data segment, the top executive said that despite a 45 per cent growth in data traffic, Robi's data revenue in 2022 only increased by around 2 per cent, compared to 2021 because of cheaper data services against the backdrop of aggressive price war in the industry.

"In absence of data floor price, such price war is rendering the data business unsustainable. We urge immediate attention of the regulator on this matter," he said.

Robi continued to enjoy 4G leadership with 53 per cent of its total subscribers being 4G users.

Its subscriber base grew around 1.4 per cent compared to 2021 to reach 54.4 million at the end of 2022, representing 30 per cent of the market share.

Around 76 per cent of the subscriber base was of data users in 2022, the highest in the industry.

Robi ensured 98.3 per cent population coverage by its 4G network with around 16,000 4G sites at the end of 2022.

Compared to 2021, data usage per subscriber per month jumped around 36 per cent. In 2022, each Robi data subscriber consumed 5.5GB data every month on an average.

On the other hand, Robi's 4G subscriber base grew by 21 per cent year-on-year to reach 28.9 million in 2022.

The mobile phone operator started its journey in 1997 under the brand name of Aktel. It then changed its name to Axiata (Bangladesh) in 2009 and took the present name Robi Axiata in 2010.

Robi joined the stock market with the largest-ever initial public offering (IPO) in Bangladesh's capital market history on December 24, 2020.

The mobile phone operator raised roughly Tk 5.24 billion from a wide range of investors, including its own employees under the fixed-price method.

The company used the IPO proceeds for network expansion.

Presently, Axiata Group of Malaysia holds the controlling stake in Robi at 61.82 per cent. Bharti Airtel of India holds 28.18 per cent, and the general public the remaining 10 per cent.

Based on the profit, the board of the company declared 7 per cent cash dividend for 2022, the highest since its listing in the stock market two years back.

The company's share price has been languishing at the floor price of Tk 30 since early August last year.

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