The consistent performer

Joseph Waring
17 May 2010

Best Mobile Carrier

Celcom Axiata

Last year's winner:XL (now XL Axiata)
Main Business:2G, 3G and satellite networks
CEO:Shazalli Ramly
Key stats (Q409):Revenue $1.96b (RM6.3b), up 13% year-on-year; 10.1m mobile subs,
up 16%, 511,000 mobile broadband subs

Celcom is on a run and has been for the past four years. It posted double-digit growth in earnings and subscribers in Q4 - its 15 consecutive quarter of growth. Not bad for a company that was in financial turmoil after the Asia financial crisis and was taken over by TM in 2003 to resolve its debt problems.

The operator closed 2009 with 10.1 million subscribers, up 16% from the previous year. Mobile broadband subs jumped 124% and now account for 6% of revenue (up from just 2% in 2000). Ebitda during the period rose 11%.

CEO Shazalli Ramly attributes the continued momentum to the execution of its segmented marketing strategy, fully restructured sales and distribution network, and continuous improvement in network quality and customer service.

Its work on the network side has delivered strong cost savings, with network costs as a percentage of revenue falling to 10.3% from 11.7% year-on-year.

Shazalli said its continued growth, even in the face of the recent recession, was due in part to efforts to reverse the historical trend of the mobile industry in Malaysia traditionally being very cyclical, with lower growth in the first half of the year.

"With the right strategies, product and after-sales services, we achieved sustainable revenue growth while maintaining profitability," he said.

Shazalli pointed to increased market saturation as the biggest challenge for operators.


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