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Q2: Starcomms Projects N752m Loss After Tax

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Starcomms Plc has projected a turnover of N8.5 billion and loss after tax of N752 million for the half-year ended June 30, 2009.

The board of the company had reported a revenue of N8.522 billion for the first quarter ended March 31, 2009 as against N7.403 billion in 2008, representing a growth of 15 per cent, earnings before interest exchange differences taxes and depreciation (EBITA) increased by 106 per cent to N2.349 billion as against N1.139 billion in 2008 while operating profit was N409 million as against a loss of N683,00 in the first quarter of 2008.

Starcomms posted a turnvover of N345 bill in for the financial year-ended December 31, 2009 as against N19.1 billion in 2007, representing an increase of 80.3 per cent.

The company’s loss after tax stood at N8.08 billion compared with a profit after tax of N1.016 billion in 2007.

Chief Maan Lababidi, chairman of the company told the 11th annual general meeting of the company last week that the profitability in 2008 was impacted by the decline in the value of the naira versus the dollar, as the company at the end of 2008 had $247 million in the dollar denominated debt, adding that the board is monitoring closely foreign exchange exposure and will implement appropriate strategies to reduces this exposure.

He said that the company’s strategy for 2009 is designed to emphasise profitability after the rapid growth experienced in 2008, adding that network expansion and capital expenditure will be reduced considerably from N29.94 billion in 2008 to N11.47 billion in 2009.

The chairman said operating expenditure is also being tightly controlled, while subsidy levels are being reduced as a result of continuing decreases in CDMA handset prices.

He said entry level handsets are now well below the $30 mark and that the dramatic growth in CDMA subscribers in India and China, along with new multiband chipsets, are expected to continue to put downward pressure on handset prices.

Lababidi noted that the impact of the new strategy had already been seen in the first quarter of 2009 level of profitability.

Mr. Maher Qubain managing director and chief executive of Starcomms said the company has been focused to provide a high standard of service and therefore it would not sign-up subscribers unless it has the capacity to deliver a premium service. He said the present strategy of the company is to defend and grow revenues profitably and that this would be done via three drivers.

Moving into high value-added data and content services, targeting geographic expansion into fast growing locations and growing fixed and mobile services.

He said the company’s focus is on moving its business from basic voice and data connectivity to fully converged solutions that integrate voice data, content and Internet Services.

He said the company is embedding a culture of excellence in customer service as well as innovation, which is crucial in an increasingly competition environment.

The managing director of Starcomms Mission is to be a leading Nigerian telecommunications Services company, focused on long-term profitability through growth in fixed-wireless, mobile and broadband segments.

Starcomms strategy is designed to deliver sustainable, profitable growth going forward, noting that the creation of shareholder value is the underlying driver of every decision made.

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IPPIS: Oil Workers Threaten To Shut Down, Sunday

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Senior oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have threatened to shut down all oil operations by Sunday, if the Federal Government failed to pay their salaries latest today.
The oil workers, who had embarked on a peaceful warning protest since Wednesday issued the threat when they gathered at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun in the continuation of the agitation, yesterday.
The protesters, who adorned red T-shirts carried assorted placards with inscriptions such as “No To Forceful Enrollment into IPPIS”; “Release Our Salaries Now or No Dialogue”; and “We Are Not Against IPPIS but Create Another Platform That Address Our Peculiarities”, amongst others.
Addressing the protesting workers, the Vice Chairman, Warri Zonal Council of PENGASSAN and Secretary of Regulators Forum, Prince Audu Oshiokhamele, warned that “if the salaries are not released by Friday, then all oil operations will be shut down by midnight of Sunday.”
He declared, “I want to assure you, our union members, that if our salaries are not released before Friday (tomorrow), by 12 midnight, on Sunday we will shut down the whole nation. What we are just doing now is a warning protest but by Sunday, the music will change”.
Also addressing the protesters, Oshiokhamele, who was in company of Mr. James Esiomor, PTI branch Chairman of PENGASSAN and Mr. Ejokirhie Jahpurpose, Chairman of PTI branch of NUPENG, expressed surprise that the Federal Ministry of Finance claimed ignorance of non-payment of their salaries in the last three months.

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Rivers Commissioner Harps On Petroleum Prices Stability

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The Rivers State Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Meede, has stated the need for the Federal Government to ensure stability in the pump price of petrol in the country.
Meede said this while addressing the head of Port Harcourt Zone of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), Mr Ikien Sika, who paid him a visit in his office in Port Harcourt.
The commissioner said the instability in the pump prices of Petroleum products was responsible for the sharp practices some marketers engaged in.
He noted that the ministry would not tolerate the activities of dishonest marketers in the state, adding that it was not good for economic planning
According to him, “a situation where today we have a different price, next month we have a different price, the other month again you have a different price is not good for planning. We will not allow them to take advantage of Rivers people in terms of under dispensing of products, selling fake products that would undermine the security, safety and lives of Rivers people.
“I want you to collaborate with the ministry, let the people operating this industry in Rivers State understand that the ministry is alive and ready to support them to do their business but in a situation where they will compromise the standard of the product, we will not take that.”
He furthermore, said that the state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had ensured a conducive environment for doing business in Rivers State, which he pointed out would benefit petroleum marketers and warned that any attempt to short change Rivers people would not be tolerated.
He said, “you can hear that there is problem in Lagos and other states, but th-e sector in Rivers State here is relatively safe, but we need that collaboration. You can see that we’re partners in progress and we would appreciate that you continue to support us. A situation where people demarket Rivers State is over, the days where people would say ‘don’t go to Rivers state, is over. His Excellency has worked so hard to ensure that the environment of Rivers state, security of Rivers State, the economy of rivers state is on the front burner, that’s why you see the best we were doing in ensuring that peace and other forms of businesses thrive in Rivers State.’’
Responding, the head of Port Harcourt Zone of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr Ikien Sika said the agency was pleased with the peaceful co-existence between petroleum marketers and the state.
“We have to commend the governor and then of course the honourable commissioner, but there is still something and we have to tell ourselves the truth. In my house today I cannot open the windows, because of the soot. These are some of the things which I have noticed, but other things I was told that has actually reduced to a large extent”, he said.
He observed that the fluctuation of pump prices in petrol is an indication that the federal government will soon deregulate the petrol sector.
On his part, the Zonal Chairman of the Petroleum Product Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria, Prince Sunny Ugbe, said that federal government was wrong to allow petroleum product marketers to determine the price of petroleum products in the country.
Prince Ugbe also noted that the PPPRA recently increased Ex-depot price of petrol and left the marketers to fix the retail price
He called on the federal government to fix the moribund refineries across the country as part of measure to ensuring a smooth process of deregulation of the petroleum sector

 

By: Tonye Nria-Dappa

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FG To Deduct Illegal Mining Fees From States’ Allocations

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The Federal Government on Wednesday resolved that henceforth, it would be deducting any illegal fees imposed on mining companies by state governments from the allocation of such states.
It has therefore directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to begin to implement the directive.
The decision was reached at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed said the decision was taken to eradicate double taxation in the mining sector and also gain investors’ confidence.
He said, “On the issue of double taxation whereby mining companies are taxed by local and state governments, two decisions were taken.
“One is that the council directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to deduct directly from federal allocations of states which have deprived Federal Government of Nigeria’s revenue due to it by imposition of illegal taxes and levies on mining companies in their states.
“In other words, if a particular state engages in double taxation, you are imposing illegal taxes on a duly registered mining company, and it is reported to government, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will deduct that money from your allocation.
“The intent is to ensure that we don’t scare away investors, be they local or foreign. This will go a long way to reassure the investors that Nigeria is a safe place to invest now.”
The minister added that FEC also directed the National Economic Council to dialogue with the state governors in order to make them understand that states can participate in mining as corporate bodies by registering companies.
He reiterated the position of the law that the Federal Government had the exclusive right to mine and manage all mineral resources.
Mohammed added that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who presented a memorandum to the council, also identified insecurity in certain parts of the country as one of the major challenges facing the mining sector.
He noted that in the North Western part of the country, mining had been suspended because of the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
He added that the industry was also faced with the problem of collision between some stakeholders, sometimes the traditional rulers.
He also reported certain decisions of past government in the area of storage of explosives that were used for mining.
Mohammed said, “Before now, the position is that any miner that wants to use explosives for mining must store them in either the military barracks or police facilities.
“So, he (Adegbite) asked for special dispensation to build special facilities at least one in each of the geo-political zones of the country. He also complained about extortion, the position of community development agreement, and the issue of many illegal miners.”
The minister said the council noted that insecurity and illegal mining had led to a huge loss of money and directed the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, to set up a special unit domiciled in Abuja to carry out targeted operations at identified and confirmed illegal mining sites nationwide.

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