Telenor Group has “not given up on its ambition to be a growth company”, president and CEO Sigve Brekke (pictured) said, as he placed a big focus on the operator’s ongoing digitisation efforts following a modest Q4.
Brekke, speaking at the company’s capital markets day, which was held in conjunction with the release of its quarterly earnings announcement, admitted “it is not easy to find a direction of where we want to go”, and said it was now key to “embrace” digital platforms and build global services for future growth.
“Entering 2017, our priorities our clear. We will continue to digitise our core business in order to build strong and engaging customer relations, and to capture the efficiency opportunities that digitisation brings,” he said in a statement. The operator previously announced it will also reorganise its business units into regional clusters in March to streamline its global operations.
Indeed, 2016 served to highlight the need for Telenor to establish new avenues for the future, amid slowing growth in its traditional voice and data businesses. Brekke added the year had been challenging in many of its main markets.
Revenue in Q4 decreased by 1 per cent to NOK33.1 billion ($4 billion), from NOK33.5 billion in the same period of 2015. On an organic basis, revenue grew 1 per cent year-on-year, which Telenor said was led by customer growth and rising mobile data usage across its Asia operations. However, the growth was partially offset by intense competition in its Thai, Malaysian and Danish markets, which continued during the quarter.
The company swung to a profit of NOK2.3 billion during the quarter, overturning a NOK1.1 billion loss in the comparable 2015 quarter due to lower one-time charges and improved performance from its affiliates including VimpelCom.
Overall mobile subscriptions increased by 3 million during the quarter, taking Telenor’s total to 214 million. The increase was due to strong growth in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and partially offset by decreases in its India unit and Thailand.
Reports this week suggested Telenor would be interested in pitching its Indian business into a three-way merger with Aircel and RCom.