Axiata Group Berhad is a Malaysian telecommunications conglomerate with extensive operations in Asia. It is one of the largest wireless carriers in the country. Their new tagline, Advancing Asia, was also launched, reflecting the direction of the company in focusing their expansion within Asia . The Group also has stakes in non-mobile telecommunication operations in Thailand and Pakistan. In their website in , it was announced that Axiata had approximately million subscribers across Asia and Group revenue of MYR Axiata Group meets main competitors across the Indonesian market Telkomsel.
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The year marked a global upswing in economic activity amid rising market optimism and low volatility. We also bore witness to how digital disruption and the advanced use of digital technologies triggered significant shifts in geopolitics and business models. The rapid increase and ubiquitous use of mobile devices have further unleashed the potential for digital disruptions across many traditional industries, notwithstanding the telecoms industry, challenging the long-held traditional businesses and technologies.
With these events as the backdrop, I am pleased to note that the strategies we have put in place have mitigated some of the industry challenges as we continue to drive the turnaround of some of our key markets.
Axiata maintains its standing as one of the largest telecommunications groups in Asia , with presence in 11 countries in ASEAN and South Asia, serving approximately million customers as at end In keeping to our broader goal of Advancing Asia, we create long-term value for all of our stakeholders including;.
Dividend Payout for Given the improved overall results, the Board has declared a higher full year dividend payout of 8. Axiata remains committed to delivering the value proposition of moderate growth and moderate yield to our shareholders over the longer term.
Axiata continues to make a substantial contribution to our markets as a long-term committed investor in all our markets, some for over 21 years.
Through our investments across the region, the Group is recognised as one of the largest Foreign Direct Investors, employers, taxpayers and purchasers of local services. The Group contributed USD Our activities supported 1. Our commitment to the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter supported local government agencies in Sri Lanka and Nepal by broadcasting over eight million SMS, thus preventing the loss of life and livestock. Humanitarian missions were dispatched to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as part of our partnership with Mercy Malaysia.
Axiata has consistently been recognised for upholding strong governance and transparency practices. The Group ranked second amongst all Malaysian public listed companies in corporate governance disclosure and continues to receive commendations from the Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group. Additionally, we have re-organised and restructured our management governance structure to ensure efficiencies in capturing market opportunities in new and important growth areas. We have also combined our remuneration and nomination committees for greater synergies and consistencies.
We bid farewell to Bella Ann Almeida and Kenneth Shen who have served us well and we thank them for their dedication and service to the Group.
We are now well in the third phase of our journey, one that will transition the Group into a truly digital company by In building a strong foundation for our New Generation Digital Champion ambition, we remain keenly focused on redefining and digitising our operating model across the Group to capture value from new opportunities on the horizon.
Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim outlines these clear strategies in his message to you on page 14 of this report. On behalf of the Board, thank you to our various stakeholders for their sustained support. Our gratitude goes to governments and regulators of our operating countries for their support and the opportunity to continue to provide digital and telecommunication services to approximately million people.
I am especially pleased to present to you our first Integrated Annual Report. Emerging from a challenging where the Group was affected by a combination of extenuating external circumstances coupled by our own internal challenges, we were determined to make a great year. I am pleased to report that was indeed a year to be recorded as one of our top performing years given all the challenges of the industry.
All other core mobile operations and businesses performed well with Operating Companies OpCos recording better than industry average results and some performed the best in the industry. As a result, we registered our highest revenue to date at RM In late , we also initiated our ambitious cost optimisation programme with RM million in opex and capex savings targeted for while working towards a RM1.
I am pleased to report that in alone, the Group successfully delivered RM1. On the back of higher revenue and cost optimisation initiatives, the Group recorded a The Group ended with a strong balance sheet.
Available cash for the Group was strong at RM6. I am pleased to say that this is now firmly on track. Celcom has demonstrated improvements in all these areas resulting in good performance especially against the industry.
Celcom captured mobile service revenue market share with service revenue growth of 0. Celcom had also introduced a simplified and transparent product portfolio and improved its sales and distribution channels to regain market confidence. One of the most significant progress recorded was in the organisation and culture transformation, by adopting more digital and agile ways of working and dynamic mindset shifts, which enabled Celcom to compete more effectively in the market.
Having said all the above, Celcom management is aware that they still have a long way to go to fully turnaround the company, but are confident of doing so given the traction so far.
XL continued to make steady progress in its Transformation Agenda which culminated in a strong year of performance in XL also focused its investments in expanding 4G network coverage in key regions outside Jawa, which resulted in significant improvement in data traffic and monetisation of data.
In , XL led the market on share of data revenue and smartphones on its network. Our strategy and proven track record of strengthening our existing market position through in-country consolidation in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Indonesia have also been effective in Bangladesh with the first industry merger between Robi and Bharti Airtel back in The subsequent integration, currently progressing ahead of schedule and synergies surpassing expectations, has led to Robi strengthening its market position as the significant number two player in the sector.
Robi saw a customer growth of The expected merger synergies have also been achieved in the integration of networks and innovative data offerings to drive data usage within its customer base. Notwithstanding the hyper-competition and intensifying price war in Cambodia, Smart sustained its exceptional performance record.
Similarly, Dialog and Ncell upheld their commanding position despite heightened competition and regulatory challenges.
Dialog delivered excellent growth in all segments supported by exceptional cost optimisation to improve EBITDA margin by 2. Within these markets, we have invested heavily in data networks and capacity in , which has further solidified our position as the strong number one player in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Since we embarked on our digital services journey in , Axiata Digital has built a diverse portfolio of up to 29 digital brands and services by end of Our digital businesses are now spread across two distinct digital operating companies, Axiata Digital and Axiata Business Services, operating under the brand Xpand.
In late , Axiata Digital launched Boost, an e-wallet service, in Malaysia. As of 31 March , Boost has attracted approximately 2. We are currently insuring over 3. Within a short period of time, Xpand has established key partnerships and invested in solutions in growth verticals such as transportation, agriculture and Smart City projects. Our infrastructure services company, edotco, delivered on its growth strategy and ambition to position itself as the leading independent telecommunications infrastructure services provider across Asia.
In , edotco made a significant leap in growth through two deals in Pakistan. Subsequently, edotco entered into the proposed acquisition of Deodar Private Limited Deodar , a subsidiary of Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited, in partnership with Dawood Hercules Corporation, a leading listed Pakistan investment conglomerate.
The transaction is targeted for completion in the second quarter of , with immediate financial accretion for the company. This will effectively place edotco as the eighth largest independent tower company and second largest multicountry tower operator globally by With a large and diverse portfolio of Digital Telcos, Digital Businesses and Infrastructure services, Axiata has continuously reviewed various strategic portfolio options to ensure long-term shareholder value enhancement and optimal allocation of capital and funding for our growth strategies.
These investments by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and Khazanah Nasional Berhad set the benchmark as the largest global tower sector private placement for the year. In Cambodia, we welcomed a new strategic partner, Mitsui Co. These deals have effectively helped us monetise our assets and bring financial value to the Group and our shareholders, with the proceeds used for general corporate purposes, repayment of existing debt and further improving our gearing from 2.
With the continued lowering in data yields in all our markets and our need to fund our growth plans, we implemented a Group-wide cost management programme in late We targeted RM2. I am pleased with the progress with RM1. With talent as part of our Advancing Asia foundation, Axiata has always been focused on talent development and has been recognised as a talent factory across Asia. We have spent close to USD43 million on formal training and leadership development since This is to create a digital led mindset and the birth of a Modern, Agile and Digital M.
Over 9, employees were simultaneously involved across the Group in a one-day digital awareness exercise. Since our inception in up to , Axiata has been singularly focused on realising its vision of becoming a Regional Champion. At the same time, we diversified our portfolio to the triple core business it is today. On the strength of these foundations, in we embarked on a new journey to become a New Generation Digital Champion by Axiata 3. We have also identified eight action-oriented needle-moving initiatives , which will support the execution of this strategy.
Further details of our transformation journey is available in the Axiata 3. In , our management execution efforts will be focused on the following key areas:. As Celcom and XL performed as planned in , both OpCos remain our key focus to continue their respective turnaround and transformation journey.
At Celcom, we will continue to be aggressive in recapturing our leadership in crucial areas through improvements in network, customer experience and digitisation. For the other OpCos, we will continue delivering on our leadership positions and strengths.
High demand for data and continuous investment to support growth requires improvements in cost structures at a sustainable level. Building on the success of last year, we will be focusing on not only tactical level but also strategic ones. Our target is to deliver RM5 billion for the five-year period of till Over the last two years, we have witnessed in India the single biggest telecommunication event that has effectively destroyed the value of its telecommunications industry.
Operators were forced to consolidate, exit or file for closure from the disruption. The proposed merger of Idea and Vodafone India Limited will make it the largest telco in India, and one of the largest in the world, signifying a new era for all.
This move will also make India a predominantly three player market. For a market the size of India, consolidation into a three player market will be extremely good for the sector in the long-term. Since , Axiata has been a strategic investor in Idea and we believe in the long-term intrinsic value of our investment.
Consequent to the completion of the proposed merger there will be a technical impairment of our investment. The reclassification of our shareholding from associate to simple investment will be an accounting process resulting in a onetime mark-to-market impairment.
This would be non-cash and will not reflect the intrinsic value of the investment and actual performance. Building on our efforts in , the Group will continue with its massive digitisation programme at both Group and OpCo levels in the coming year. This programme will cover our customer fronting programme elements, processes, platform and people.
In sales and distribution we aim to manage dealers and distributors digitally using mainly online solutions. Our network modernisation and digitisation of platforms will further support our overall push for digitisation, while our organisational and cultural transformation programme, M.