Bakrie Telecom books first profit

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Publicly listed Bakrie Telecom (BTEL), a subsidiary of Bakrie and Brothers, reported net revenues Wednesday of Rp 607.9 billion (US$67.7 million) for 2006, a 149.4 percent increase from Rp 243.7 billion in 2005.

With the sharp growth in revenues, BTEL, which operates a CDMA-based mobile phone service under the name Esia, booked a net profit of Rp 72.6 billion in 2006, compared with a net loss of Rp 144.3 billion in 2005.

The net profit was the first annual profit to be turned in by the company since it commenced operation in September 2003.

"In 2005, BTEL suffered losses of Rp 144.3 billion. But last year, with the substantial increase in customers, we managed to turn the situation around with a net profit of Rp 72.68 billion," the company's president director, Anindya N. Bakrie, said in a statement.

The firm's gross revenue rose by 125 percent from Rp 369.1 billion in 2005 to Rp 829 billion last year thanks to the sharp increase in the number of the company's subscribers.

With the higher revenue, the company's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to Rp 291.5 billion in 2006 from Rp 23.9 billion, reflecting a 1,117.2 percent increase.

Anindya said the company's performance had significantly improved last year, with the number of subscribers increasing by 218 percent from about 486,000 in 2005 to 1.54 million last year.

"With the continuing increase in the number of our subscribers, we are optimistic that we will be able to meet our 2007 targets," he said.

BTEL, which was floated on the Jakarta Stock Exchange in February 2006, had set itself the target of doubling the number of its subscribers this year to 3.6 million, about 80 percent of whom were expected to come from Jakarta, West Java and Banten. To achieve this target, the company plans to expand its national coverage to 17 cities in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi this year.

"We want to commence services in various other cities, such as Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta and Medan, in the second semester of this year," Anindya said.

BTEL has set aside about US$220 million for capital expenditure this year, 60 percent of which will be used for the financing of infrastructural and IT system development, while the remainder will be used to increase its transmission facilities.

The firm's parent company, Bakrie and Brothers, is targeting 25 percent revenue growth in 2007 over a forecast Rp 4.1 trillion for last year. BTEL is expected to contribute some 30 percent of the widely diversified business group's total revenues within the next few years, from 16 percent in 2005.

BTEL only received a national license from the government last December, and, up until the end of last year, more than 98 percent of its revenue came from Jakarta and Bandung.

It is now competing with other CDMA providers in Indonesia, such as PT Telkom with its Telkomflexi service, PT Mobile-8 Telecom with Fren and PT Indosat with Star-one.
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