Axiata Group returned to profit in the final quarter of 2019, with its two largest mobile businesses in Indonesia and Malaysia leading a recovery across all operating units.

The Malaysia-headquartered company recorded a net profit of MYR404 million ($96.3 million), rebounding from a loss of MYR1.79 billion in Q4 2018. It attributed the improvement to a better operational performance and a one-off MYR1.8 billion impairment in the prior year.

Group operating revenue was flat year-on-year at MYR6.27 billion.

The operator said all of its operating companies were profitable, highlighting improvements XL in Indonesia and Robi in Bangladesh. Its domestic unit, Celcom,returned to profit despite a double-digit drop in revenue.

Axiata Group chairman Ghazzali Sheikh Abdul Khalid said: “The excellent set of results delivered signals the group is on the right track with its profit and cash focus.”

Mobile units
XL revenue grew 10.5 per cent to MRY1.9 billion, driven by strong data growth. Profit returned to the black at MYR36.5 million versus a net loss of MYR896.1 million in Q4 2018. Data accounted for 89 per cent of service revenue.

Celcom’s revenue dropped 10.3 per cent to MYR1.72 billion, mainly due to lower device sales, and a drop in domestic interconnect and roaming rates. Net profit of MYR247 million compared with an MRY217 loss in Q4 2018, following a 54 per cent drop in depreciation and amortisation costs due to a one-time asset write-off.

Revenue at Robi grew 6.2 per cent to MYR928.6 million, boosted by strong data growth, while its Sri Lanka unit Dialog posted a 1.6 per cent rise to MYR683 million.

Ncell in Nepal saw revenue drop 8.3 per cent to MYR469 million, due to declines in almost all business segments after the government lowered interconnect charges. Revenue at Smart in Cambodia grew 5.1 per cent to MYR339 million, driven by continued expansion in data revenue.

Tower business edotco’s revenue rose 15.5 per cent to MYR468 million.

New leadership
Last month, the company named Izzaddin Idris as the replacement for current president and CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim, who is due to retire at the end of the year.

Khalid said the board is aware of the need for a smooth and successful transition, with both Ibrahim and Idris working closely in the coming months.