KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd is placing the emphasis on operational resilience and sound business fundamentals as it accelerates its pace towards achieving technology company (TechCo) status.
"Building up our digital core remains our focus as we progress towards our goal of becoming The Next Generation Digital Champion.
"Following our net-zero emissions and science-based target commitments last year, Axiata has put in place the governance structures and resources to strengthen and oversee matters relating to sustainability within the group including areas of digital inclusion and climate action," said chairman Tan Sri Shahril Ridza Ridzuan in a statement.
According to the group, some of the key actions of resilience taken include the continued reduction of forex exposure, increased hedging activities, reduction of capex, and zero-based costing.
"Given these proactive measures, we are targeting mid-single digit revenue growth and high single-digit earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) growth in 2023," added joint acting group CEO Vivek Sood.
Announcing its earnings for the 2022 financial year, the telco group said it recorded a net profit of RM9.77bil, nearly 12 times the net profit of RM818.9mil in the previous year as it took into account a RM13.5bil one-off net gain on the Celcom-Digi merger.
The group's earnings per share rose to 106.4 sen as compared with 8.9 sen in 2021.
Axiata said the improved bottomline was offset by higher depreciation and amortisation, taxes, net finance cost as well as goodwill impairment.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) meanwhile increased 9% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM12.4bil.
The group reported revenue of RM21.73bil, which was 8.66% improved over the 2021 period, with higher contributions from all operating companies (OpCos) except Dialog and Ncell.
In line with its performance, the group declared a second dividend of five sen a share, which took the overall dividend payout to 14 sen a share in 2022.
Over the course of 2022, Axiata said it continued to drive cost excellence by achieving a capex savings of RM1.07bil.
The group closed the year with a robust balance sheet as gross debt/Ebitda decreased to 2.9x compared to two previous quarters.
This was owing to the higher debt to fund the Link Net and ISOC Philippines tower acquisitions, which was subsequently normalised by the proceeds from the completed mergers and acquisitions.
The group reported a healthy cash balance of RM7.5bil.
Joint acting group CEO Hans Wijayasuriya said the group's performance was owing to a multi-faceted response by Axiata to the macro headwinds.
"The group built resilience and operational muscle while seeding platforms for profitable growth.
"FY23 will be equally decisive, presenting opportunities and challenges associated with execution excellence and structural transformation, potentially on the backdrop of global macro headwinds," he added.