The country's second-largest telecom operator Robi faced a big fall in subscriber base and revenue growth in the second quarter of 2020.
Compared to the first quarter, Robi's second-quarter revenue fell by 9.5 percent to Tk1,763 crore.
Meanwhile, the operator's active subscriber base dropped by 3.5 percent, to 4.80 crore, compared to the previous quarter.
However, cost optimisation drive coupled with revenue-driven spending helped Robi register a profit after tax (PAT) of Tk58.4 crore in the second quarter.
While reading the PAT figure, it must be noted that it was heavily impacted by the discriminatory 2 percent minimum turnover tax, Robi said in a statement.
"The smaller players in the telecom industry are effectively made to pay minimum turnover tax at double the rate compared to any other industry."
Robi paid Tk804.3 crore to the national exchequer in the second quarter of 2020. The company's capital expenditure (Capex) investment in the quarter was Tk311 crore.
"The second quarter of 2020 was unlike any other quarter we lived through. As anticipated, the impact of pandemic was quite telling on our business. But our razor-sharp focus on cost optimisation, less direct cost due to the pandemic, helped us end the quarter with a decent profit," Robi Managing Director and CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said.
Amid "the doom and gloom of the pandemic, it was encouraging to see the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission taking decisive moves to implement significant market power (SMP) regulations. We now eagerly await tangible outcomes in this regard."
However, increasing supplementary duty by 5 percent, in the recently declared national budget, made things more difficult for the business, Mahtab said.
Bangladesh now has 161.29 million mobile phone subscribers and 103.476 million smartphone users.
Earlier, Robi applied to the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission for raising Tk523 crore from the capital market through issuing new shares in an initial public offering (IPO).
Robi will issue 523.8 million new shares at a face value of Tk10 each.
Of the new scrips, 387.7 million shares will be offered to the public, which will represent 7.4 percent of the company's post-IPO number of shares.
Also, the company's employees and directors will be offered to buy 136.1 million shares under an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP), which will represent 2.6 percent of the post-IPO number of shares.
The IPO proceeds will be used to fund Robi's capital expenditures and enhance its profile as a leading telecom operator.
The company started operations in 1997 as Telekom Malaysia International (Bangladesh), under the brand name Aktel.
In 2010, it was rebranded as Robi and the company changed its name to Robi Axiata Limited.
After the merger with Airtel Bangladesh in 2016, the company emerged as the second-largest telecom operator and retained the same name.
This merger helped the company see profits last year, after several years of losses.
Malaysian telecom giant Axiata Group Berhad holds 68.69 percent of Robi Axiata's controlling shares. Other shareholders in the entity are Delhi-based Bharti Airtel and Tokyo-based NTT Docomo.
Robi's main competitor Grameenphone is now the only telecom operator listed on the Bangladeshi stock market.