True executives promise profit, banking on synergy

True executives promise profit, banking on synergy

Visitors gather around True Corporation’s booth at Thailand Mobile Expo 2023. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Visitors gather around True Corporation’s booth at Thailand Mobile Expo 2023. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

True Corporation vows to post a net profit this year despite a net loss of 15.6 billion baht last year.

The net loss was attributed to a one-time cost in the fourth quarter as well as an impairment of redundant assets related to network modernisation, according to the company.

Chief executive Manat Manavutiveth said the company is poised for growth and profitability in 2024, aided by macroeconomic factors such as growing domestic and international tourism, increased data usage, and the trend of digital lifestyles.

Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Corporation amalgamated into a new company named True Corporation in March 2023.

Mr Manat said the company's performance exceeded expectations last year, with sequential growth in revenue and improved profitability.

As of the fourth quarter last year, True achieved net synergies of 1 billion baht as a result of accelerated execution of key initiatives, he said.

The company's network modernisation efforts surpassed planned targets, resulting in synergy through energy and rental savings, said Mr Manat.

True updated its fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) service offerings, reporting 16% growth in FMC subscribers since amalgamation, with a 30% average revenue per user gain during the same period.

The DTAC and True brands continue to lead in the tourist and migrant sectors, posting growth of 1.0% and reaching 51.9 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2023.

True claims the broadest 5G network in the country, covering 90% of the population, as well as the largest 5G subscriber base of 10.5 million, registering growth of 12% from the third quarter in 2023.

Nakul Sehgal, co-chief financial officer of True, said in 2023 the focus was on integration and restructuring after the merger.

This year the emphasis is transformation to profitable growth, while in 2025 it is sustainable profits and value creation, he said.

Mr Nakul said consolidated total revenue for the fourth quarter increased by 4.4% on a quarterly basis, driven by higher service revenue and increased product sales. Mobile service revenue improved on a quarterly basis, driven by a tourist influx and growth in the migrant segment, aided by focused base management.

The company's pay TV subscription revenue remained flat quarter-on-quarter, while product sales revenue improved by 28.7% in the same period, driven by the launch of iPhones in the third quarter of 2023, he said.

For 2023, total operating expenses excluding depreciation and amortisation decreased by 11.2%, driven by realisation of synergies and cost discipline incorporated into business operations.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) for the year increased by 3.6% compared with 2022.

For the 2024 outlook, Mr Nakul said the company expects to deliver 3-4% growth in service revenue (excluding interconnection fees) and 9-11% growth in Ebitda.

Capital expenditure, including integration, is expected to be around 30 billion baht, he said, which would cover network modernisation and IT infrastructure expenses to improve the customer experience.

"On a normalised basis, True expects to turn a profit in 2024," said Mr Nakul.

He said the company has 56,000 total cellular stations.

Of the total, 2,000 were modernised in 2023, with another 8,000 targeted for this year.

True plans to modernise only 17,000 cell stations as needed following the merger, said Mr Nakul.

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