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Star-Cell records static revenue growth in Q3

Star-Cell records static revenue growth in Q3

091030_07
A sales assistant checks her phone Thursday at a Star Cell sales office in Phnom Penh.

Subscriber numbers bounce back from dismal second quarter, according to announcement, with 150,000 users by this month

TELIASONERA AB, the Stockholm-based mobile firm that manages Cambodia’s Star-Cell, announced late Wednesday that revenues from the Kingdom remained static in the third quarter as profits before tax for its overall operations rose 5.7 percent year on year to 5.04 billion kronor (US$720 million).

In its financial report for the June-to-September quarter, Teliasonera announced revenues of 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.13 million) for its Cambodia operation, taking revenues for the first nine months of the year to 24 million kronor ($3.406 million).

Sweden’s largest mobile operator did not publish net profits for its Cambodia unit, although it announced increased profitability overall “despite price erosion caused by growing competition and increasing price sensitivity among customers”.

Stocks in the firm fell 1.79 percent in Stockholm by 10.30am Thursday to 47.32 kronor.

Since Applifone, the local subsidiary of Teliasonera, launched in Cambodia in October 2007, five new operators have also entered the market prompting companies including Millicom International SA, the majority shareholder in market leader Mobitel, to complain of diminishing profitability this year.

In Wednesday’s announcement, Teliasonera said that it had added 2 million subscriptions with the acquisitions of operations in Cambodia and Nepal in September last year when it bought a 51 percent stake in TeliaSonera Asia Holding BV from Visor Group, which owns Applifone outright.
Most of these subscriptions were added in Nepal.

The company announcement stated it had 141,000 total users in Cambodia at the end of the third quarter of which only 1,000 were post-paid.

According to company figures, this represented a decrease of 3,000 users since the end of the last quarter of 2008, the first full quarter of operations since Teliasonera’s acquisition was announced on September 21 last year.

User numbers volatile
At the end of the second quarter, Star Cell saw its users plummet to 64,000 from a peak of 150,000 at the end of the first quarter, according to company data, an anomaly that remains unaccounted for.

Jen Borja Bornas, Applifone’s media manager in Cambodia, declined to comment Thursday on revenues and user numbers.

In Cambodia, mobile sector executives have noted a trend among users of swapping among competing operators’ SIM cards – often given away free of charge – in a bid to take advantage of increasingly competitive tariffs.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is currently working on a prakas, or edict, on pricing after competitors accused the newest operator, Beeline, of price-dumping and triggering a barrage of schemes offering free within-network calls.

Operators were due to submit a detailed breakdown on their costs by today with the aim of establishing a minimum tariff across the sector.

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