StarHub 1H21 profits tumble; firm announces launch of 5G SA market trial

6 Aug 2021

Singaporean operator StarHub reported that for the six months ended 30 June 2021, its revenue improved 1.5% year-on-year to SGD973.7 million (USD720.9 million) from 959.6 million in the corresponding period a year ago, but operating profit fell 5.8% to SGD104.7 million, pre-tax profit dipped 7.2% to SGD85.5 million and net profit attributable to the owners of the company dropped 10.3% to SGD67.9 million. Furthermore, StarHub’s EBITDA in the six-month period fell 7.4% to SGD245.9 million from SGD265.5 million in 1H20. Total CAPEX commitment in the 1H21 amounted to SGD28.3 million or 2.9% of total revenue, which it noted was below its guidance for a FY2021 CAPEX commitment at 9% to 11% of total revenue (excluding 5G CAPEX and spectrum rights).

Commenting on the results, StarHub’s CEO Nikhil Eapen remained bullish, stating: ‘We are pleased to report quarter-on-quarter growth across all our key segments in 2Q2021 although market competition remains intense and business conditions are still challenged with COVID-19. We see early results from driving a differentiated strategy that delivers real value to our customers lives’.

StarHub claimed that the three-year DARE transformation programme initiated in October 2018 has to-date ‘exceeded the initial cost savings target of SGD210 million’ and that ‘The Group is expected to achieve total cost savings of SGD273 million by the end of October 2021, the third anniversary of the programme’. The operator said that the DARE initiative has revolutionised its structure as it seeks to become a ‘digital-first and agile platform’, adding that in November 2021 it will outline its next phase of transformation, DARE+, which is expected to span the period 2022-2026. StarHub also continues to explore ‘synergistic and accretive M&A opportunities that will bolster its market position and offer further diversification,’ it said.

Nikhil Eapen also highlighted the firm’s focus on 5G as a key area for growth, coinciding with the announcement that the company has launched a free 5G Standalone (SA) market trial. StarHub switched on 5G SA coverage across the island on 4 August, noting that new and re-contracting Mobile+ and Biz+ subscribers with StarHub’s 5G SIM cards and compatible devices could be ‘amongst the first to experience and enjoy enhanced mobile experiences, from streaming to gaming and surfing at blazing speeds, and crystal-clear quality calls’.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in March 2021 Nokia was selected to roll out what it described at the time as the first SA 5G RAN deployment in South East Asia, for Antina, a joint venture company (JVCo) formed by mobile network operators M1 and StarHub. Under the deal, Nokia agreed to supply 5G base stations alongside its small cell solution, which will be used for indoor coverage, utilising the 3.5GHz band. Singaporean regulator the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) issued Antina with a 15-year ‘Licence to Provide Facilities-Based Operations’ on 2 November 2020 following an auction process that concluded in June that year.

Singapore, StarHub