Robi's revenue crept up 8.6 percent to Tk 1,680 crore in the second quarter of 2017 on the back of solid growth in voice and data sales, brought about by the merger with Airtel in some measure.
Voice revenue grew 36.5 percent and data revenue 106.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, said the country's second largest mobile operator in a statement yesterday.
Operating profit, however, remained flat at Tk 270 crore, largely because of hefty investment in network expansion and market activities and a lower margin of Airtel business resulting from the merger.
The merger, however, paid off in bringing in more customers under its network: it witnessed its subscriber base expand 9.3 percent during the quarter.
The operator added 3.4 million new customers to take its tally to 39.6 million -- enough to secure a 29.2 percent of the market share.
Between the months of April and June, Robi invested Tk 540 crore as capital expenditure, up from Tk 450 crore in the preceding three months, to expand its nationwide 2.5G and 3.5G network coverage.
The operator has network coverage in all 64 districts of Bangladesh, with about 77 percent of its towers being 3.5G-enabled.
Robi CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said 2017 started with the biggest challenge of integrating the Robi-Airtel network, the first ever merger in the country's telecom sector.
The carrier's continued investment and efficient integration of the Robi and Airtel networks have enabled it to offer strong coverage, both indoor and outdoor, with expanded data capabilities for subscribers, he said.
“The positive customer feedback received to this effect works as a source of inspiration as we sustain our efforts to offer a complete set of digital lifestyle services for our customers.”
During the second quarter, it continued to bring the most innovative and affordable product offers in the market, he said.
Robi introduced the first Islamic mobile package of the country, “Noor”, offering special call rates and attractive Islamic value-added services. It has also launched an e-shop to offer best smartphone deals.
But the continued investment in network expansion and the unchanged tax regime means Robi Axiata is bracing itself for a dismal financial performance at the end of the year, the statement said.
Although it translated into revenue growth for both voice and data service, the hefty investment for post-merger network expansion and heavy tax burden left the newly-merged Robi with a slim profit margin.
During the quarter, the company contributed Tk 790 crore -- which is 46.8 percent of its revenue -- to the government exchequer.
“This narrative of Robi's business again highlights the perils of a high taxation regime in the industry,” the statement added.