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November 12, 2008

SingTel stops hiring, but looking for buys
Singapore Telecommunications has implemented a hiring freeze and saw job cuts as a last resort, but would continue to look at acquisitions of strategic assets, Reuters quoted the company as saying Wednesday.

Southeast Asia's largest phone company said China and Vietnam were still on its radar screen for acquiring assets.

It said earlier on Wednesday that quarterly profit fell 12 percent, hit by subsidies for its Apple iPhone launch and a stronger Singapore dollar versus regional currencies.

The company said in a statement that its net income for its fiscal second quarter fell to 868 million Singapore dollars ($577 million), down from S$988 million a year earlier.

Sales rose 5.3 percent to SG$3.9 billion ($2.6 billion).

"Our expansion in the region subjects us to the volatility of the regional currencies," SingTel Group Chief Executive Chua Sock Koong said. "A stronger Singapore dollar reduces our mobile associates' earnings."

SingTel's stakes in regional operators such as India's Bharti Airtel Ltd., Indonesia's PT Telkomsel, the Philippines' Globe Telecom Inc., Pakistan's Warid Telecom Ltd., Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd. and Thailand's Advanced Info Service PCL account for more than half of the company's profits.

The company also warned that the global economic slowdown will undermine profits going forward.

"The current global financial crisis is unprecedented and the negative impact on businesses will be inevitable," Chua said.

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