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Australia's Telstra annual profit jumps 14.3%

Australia's dominant telecom company Telstra posted a 14.3 per cent jump in annual net profit to A$4.28 billion (S$4.97 billion) Thursday (Aug 14), boosted by the sale of its Hong Kong mobile business CSL.

SYDNEY: Australia's dominant telecom company Telstra posted a 14.3 per cent jump in annual net profit to A$4.28 billion (S$4.97 billion) Thursday (Aug 14), boosted by the sale of its Hong Kong mobile business CSL.

The strong result allowed the company to raise its final dividend to 15 cents, the first hike in eight years, taking the full-year shareholder payout to 29.5 cents, while also announcing a A$1.0 billion off-market share buy-back. Total income increased by 6.1 per cent to A$26.3 billion while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were up 9.5 percent at A$11.1 billion.

Chief executive David Thodey said the dividend boost and share buy-back were made possible by a strong operating performance, three consecutive years of earnings growth and increased cash flows from recent divestments. "We have a clear strategy that we are focussed on implementing -- we have delivered strong financial performance, we continue to take a disciplined approach to portfolio and capital management and we are carefully investing to provide sustainable long term growth," he said.

Telstra has previously held its dividend payments and instead ploughed money into its mobile infrastructure, including establishing a 4G network.

The result in the 12 months to June 30 was boosted by the sale of Hong Kong-based mobile business CSL to HKT Limited, with profit from its 76.4 per cent stake totalling A$561 million. Despite pulling out of the business, Thodey said at the time that Asia remained an important part of Telstra's strategy, and the company intended to remain in the region in the long term.

During the year, Telstra added 937,000 new domestic retail mobile customers, with 16 million now on its books, allowing mobile revenue to grow by 5.1 per cent to A$9.7 billion. Fixed line revenue rose 0.8 per cent to A$7.24 billion.