Axiata reaps rewards of 5.0 strategy in full year results

Axiata reaps rewards of 5.0 strategy in full year results

Dato’ Izzaddin Idris.jpg

Digitalisation and a new corporate strategy are paying off for Axiata Group Berhad according to its full year 2021 financial results.

Axiata's 5.0 focus has so far included a major restructure and the launch of a dedicated wholesale division with a vision to be "the next generation digital champion by 2024".

As such it has stepped away from being a holding company with a portfolio of pure-play mobile assets to adopt a "Triple Core Strategy", comprising digital telco, digital businesses and infrastructure. This also saw the launch of a wholesale division and the appointment of Obaid Ur Rahman to head it.

Reaping the rewards over the course of the last 12 months, the group reported solid operational performance from all opcos supported by accelerated data demand, connectivity and digitalisation needs across the region.

FY21 revenue and EBITDA both increased 7% to reach RM25.9 billion and RM11.4 billion respectively and EBITDA maintained a margin of 44.0%.

In constant currency, revenue excluding device (ex-device) expanded by 8.3% to RM25.1 billion, following growth across all opcos – although Ncell, in Nepal, didn't quite follow the trend.

EBITDA climbed 8.5% to RM11.4 billion mainly contributed by Celcom, Dialog, edotco and ADS.

On spending, Axiata said it "achieved cost excellence through opex and capex savings", which stand at RM696 million and RM1.3 billion respectively, and of course, total RM2 billion.

The reported Profit After Tax and Minority Interest (PATAMI) increased more than 100% overall, to RM818.9 million from higher EBITDA, lower accelerated depreciation and net finance cost, with PATAMI margin at 3.2%.

Dato’ Izzaddin Idris (pictured), president and group CEO of Axiata said: “Having navigated cautiously into 2021, it is heartening to deliver better than expected results, surpassing our headline KPI guidance of low single digits to record revenue and EBITDA growth of 8.3% and 8.5% respectively. The strong organic growth in revenue and EBITDA, and increased profits as a result, stem from deliberate steps taken to adjust and strengthen our foundations to position for the digitally accelerated environment we have experienced.”

“All our operating companies or opcos played their parts in the rigourous execution of the Axiata 5.0 Vision which focuses on positioning for new norms, opco transformation and driving structural changes to future-proof the Group,” he said.

Regarding Ncell (see table below), Idris said: "Whilst revenue continues to be dragged by lockdown and competitive pressures, we are encouraged by growth in EBITDA on the back of cost controls and its healthy EBITDA margin.”


Results by operating company for FY 21

Digital telco


Revenue (ex-device)


Free Cash Flow


Up 39.2%

5.6% increase

5.8% increase

Up 13%


Up more than 100%

2.7% increase

Up 1.7%

Down 51.3% (due to capex)


Up 16.1%


Up 2.7%



41.8% increase

Up 18.2%

15.6% increase

22.8% increase


Up 3%

Up 7.3%

Up 4.5%



More than 100% increase due to asset write off in FY20

Down 1.1%

Up 1.1%



Infra and digital services

Over at edotco, a "milestone year" was reported as total owned and managed towers grew by 34% whilst tenancy counts grew by approximately 16%.

In line with this, revenue expanded 5.2% on an overall increase in tower and tenancy counts led by organic and inorganic growth from its major markets, Bangladesh and Malaysia including an asset purchase exercise completed in 4Q21.

EBITDA for FY21 increased by 13%, benefitting from higher revenue, continuous cost optimisation efforts, and better collection overall, leading to lower bad debt provisions compared to FY20, offset against one-off retirement benefit and regulatory costs in Malaysia and Bangladesh, respectively.

Edotco acquired Touch Mindscape and its 1,000 tower portfolio in November for $400 million.

Axiata Digital, the digital services arm of Axiata is focused on two digital business verticals namely Digital Financial Services (Boost) and Digital Analytics & AI (ADA).

ADA posted strong profits while Boost narrowed losses. That took Axiata Digital revenue to RM980 million, almost double, while net loss narrowed by 62.1% to RM112 million arising from lower marketing expense at Boost and higher profit at ADA.

This year the 5.0 pipeline will see focus on completing the Celcom-Digi merger and Link Net acquisition.

Idris said: “Entering 2022, we’ll be focused on sustaining this growth momentum and are circumspect in targeting mid-single digit for revenue growth4 and high single digit for EBIT growth in view of prevailing tough external conditions. Capex is targeted at RM7.1 billion.”

“Moving forward, we will be closely monitoring macroeconomic, regulatory and industry risks in addition to developments in Myanmar. Business wise, we are positive about upsides in Indonesia, revenue uplift from demand for data, digital content and enterprise digital transformation as well as the integration of completed acquisitions in 2021. We’re also looking at potential inorganic opportunities for 2022,” Idris concluded.


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