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23 February, 2020 12:38:55 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 February, 2020 03:43:05 PM
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Robi sets 2 conditions for capital market entry

STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
Robi sets 2 conditions for capital market entry

Robi Axiata Ltd, the second largest telecom service provider in Bangladesh, yesterday said it would enter the country’s capital market if the regulator fulfils the two conditions that it has imposed. “At present, the listed telecom service providers are allowed to pay corporate tax on only five percentage points less than their non-listed competitors, which was 10 per cent until July 2017. We want a change in that,” said Robi CEO Mahtabuddin Ahmed at a press conference at the Robi headquarters.

Ahmed further said that Robi wants a change in the provision of paying minimum tax of two per cent for the listed telecom operator. “We want to pay 0.75 per cent minimum tax like other sectors.”

The Robi CEO said while they are very keen on getting listed in the stock market, the exorbitantly high corporate tax and the minimum tax are putting tremendous strain on their business.

“We don't think the existing taxation structure is conducive for us to come to the stock market. Therefore, we urge the authorities to address these well-founded concerns of ours to help the business find a strong footing,” he added.

In addition, he said, allowing a corporate tax incentive would create a scenario that could “win the confidence of potential investors and our shareholders”. Terming the way of settling the current dispute between telecom operators and regulators a bit “unsettling”, Ahmed said, “A better way could have been found had the two parties showed more patience.”

He said Robi has utmost respect for the decision of the country’s court and it has already paid heed to the court order. He said Robi has already paid Tk. 27.60 crore as the first instalment of audit dues. “We’ll pay the rest of the money,” he added.

When asked whether it has any intention to go to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to settle its dispute with the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), Ahmed said, “Our shareholders will decide that.”

Earlier, revealing its last year’s earnings, Robi said it had finished 2019 with a profit after tax (PAT) of Tk. 17 crore. Propelled by robust data revenue growth of 28 per cent over 2018, Robi ended 2019 with

Tk. 7,481 crore as total revenue, which is 10 per cent higher than that in 2018.

Although the corporate tax rate is set at 45 per cent, Robi’s effective tax rate for this year was more than that, the company said, adding that the effective tax rate went up against the backdrop of Robi making positive profit after tax (PAT) this year.

Besides, the lack of floor price for data continued to weigh heavily on the company; despite explosive growth in data usage, the suicidal pricing competition in the industry in the absence of any data floor price is not offsetting the revenue losses the company is incurring caused by the growing use of over the top (OTT) services.

The company disclosed that it added 2.1 million new subscribers in 2019 and ended the year with a base of 49 million subscribers, representing 29.6 per cent of subscriber market share; compared to 2018, the subscriber base grew by 4.5 per cent in 2019. Of the 49 million subscribers, 31.3 million are internet users.  Driven by innovative and competitive offers, Robi’s subscriber base grew by 1.7 per cent in Q4 2019, compared to Q3 2019, it noted.

Helped by the double digital revenue growth, average revenue per user (ARPU) also increased to Tk. 123 in 2019; compared to 2018, ARPU grew by 3.7 per cent in 2019. The total data usage growth of 95 per cent in 2019 was a clear indicator of Robi’s dominance in 4.5G services.

The first ever commercial deployment of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), supported by machine learning solutions, significantly enhanced Robi’s overall network efficiency, observed the company. Commenting on the financial performance of the company, CEO Ahmed said: “When we see that five out of seven customers are joining our network from other operators using MNP services, we feel completely justified to claim that we offer the best data network experience in the industry.”

“Aside from our relentless push into expanding the business around 4.5G service, our determined focus on bringing innovation in every aspect of the business helped us to be recognised as a digital telco of global standard with a Digital Transformation Index of 7.4, according to the renowned international management consultancy organisation, Oliver Wyman,” he added.

SH

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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