Grameenphone's net profit dropped 8.2% to Tk3,422 crore in 2021 owing to an increase in finance and tax expenses.
The largest mobile operator in the country suffered the profit decline despite a 2.5% year-on-year growth to Tk14,307 crore in the year that ended on 31 December.
Jens Becker, chief financial officer at Grameenphone, said in a press release on Thursday, the net profit declined last year due to favourable one-offs adjustments in its finance costs and tax expenses.
The company has paid 71.8% of its total revenues to the national exchequer in the form of taxes, value-added tax (VAT), duties and fees for 4G licence and spectrum assignment in 2021, which was 70.4% in 2020 and 59.2% in 2019.
Yasir Azman, chief executive officer of the mobile operator, said the ongoing pandemic brought about several hurdles in 2021 as the country faced its highest wave of Covid-19, followed by lockdowns. "Even then the company has reported an improved financial performance in 2021, driven by higher users and usage due to network and experience enhancement," he added.
Meanwhile, the company has shared 99% of the profit as dividend with its shareholders at a time when other organisations are resorting to profit accumulation to face the economic challenges ahead.
The operator has a liability of Tk12,580 crore to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) over an audit report claim, which is under jurisdiction of the High Court.
Grameenphone had paid Tk2,000 crore to the BTRC as per the High Court direction.
On the other hand, the company has a reserve and surplus of Tk3,121 crore, according to the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE).
Yasir Azman said, "Through collaboration and dialogue, we have resolved several regulatory issues during the year. And we are successfully negotiating to resolve the long pending ones."
Besides, in the October-December quarter last year, its mobile subscriber count fell slightly from the previous quarter. The number of data users also declined 3.25% during the period.
However, it recorded 5.3% year-on-year growth in mobile subscribers to 8.33 crore and the number of data users rose 8% to 4.46 crore.
Yasir Azman said, "Competition in the mobile data business has increased a lot. Modernisation has been a key focus for us this year, focusing on operating models, integration of automation, up-skilling of skills and building capabilities. The right mix of competency, capabilities, and tools will continue to serve as an enabler for future growth."
Meanwhile, Grameenphone has recommended a total of 250% cash dividend including 125% interim for 2021, compared to 275% cash dividend in the previous year.
Due to lower dividend, its share fell 1.13% to close at Tk351.40 on the DSE on Thursday.