Singtel CEO takes 43% pay cut in challenging year hit by 'perfect storm'

Singtel CEO takes 43% pay cut in challenging year hit by 'perfect storm'

SINGAPORE: Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) CEO Chua Sock Koong saw her annual pay package nearly halved in what the telco said was a year hit by "a perfect storm", one that was punctuated with a 44 per cent drop in net profit.

Ms Chua's package of S$3.5 million, inclusive of bonuses and benefits such as car benefits, medical coverage and club membership, was about 43 per cent lower than the S$6.1 million she made the financial year before.

The amount excludes performance shares and share option expenses, according to Singtel's latest annual report.

Last month, Singtel reported a net profit of S$3.1 billion for the 12 months ended March, its lowest annual net profit in 16 years. This was about 44 per cent lower than the S$5.5 billion it made a year ago, which had included a divestment gain from the listing of its broadband unit NetLink NBN Trust.

Chairman Simon Israel called FY2018/2019 a "perfect storm with intensifying competition across all markets, particularly India and Indonesia, plus the added backdrop of heightened economic uncertainty".

Singtel's cybersecurity business Trustwave posted a loss of S$102 million before interest and tax for the financial year.

The Digital Life division also posted losses throughout the year, with Amobee suffering a pre-tax loss of S$42 million.

However, Ms Chua said in the report that Singtel is "confident" that Trustwave and Amobee, while not yet profitable, will continue their revenue growth.

"Part of our digital transformation involved making calculated investments in new businesses that would thrive in the future economy," said Mr Israel.

He also noted that the value of Singtel's investments in these subsidiaries "is not being recognised" in the share price, and that "management intends to unlock this value at the appropriate time".

"As we continue to build operating momentum, we are turning our attention towards value realisation for these businesses," said Group Digital Life CEO Samba Natarajan, highlighting acquisitions such as Videology, HOOQ's digital partnerships and DataSpark.

"In addition to acquisitions and organic growth, we are also looking at other investment strategies in which we identify and invest in emerging growth companies through Innov8, especially those that are filling the gaps left by traditional infrastructure or are disrupting and improving service delivery through their digital solutions."

Ms Chua said in her review in the annual report that the past year was "far from business as usual".

"Competition intensified across virtually all our markets as operators jostled for market share while advances in technology continued to disrupt the telco industry, putting more pressure on prices and return on investment," she said.

Source: CNA/ic(hm)