Hidden Surprise

August 3, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka Telecom is expecting a 75 percent rise in full-year net profits as its cellular subsidiary makes a quick turnaround, which helps off-set sudden costs to trim its workforce, officials said Thursday.

Mobitel, the firm’s cellular subsidiary, is turning the corner, after narrowing down six month losses to 190 million rupees this year, from 327 million rupees over the same period 2005.

Mobitel, which trails Telekom Malaysia’s subsidiary Dialog Telekom and Celltel Lanka Ltd, has reported consecutive quarterly losses since 2003, on account of costs incurred to switch to a digital network.

With 609,000 subscribers chatting on its network to date, Mobitel has increased its market share to 16 percent and hopes to sign up a further 400,000 customers by end-2006.

œMobitel is on track to make a profit in the third quarter of this year. Our network has the capacity to take on a million subscribers, and we want to double it next year, its chief executive Suren Amarasekera told reporters.

The cellular company hopes to call for tenders next year, which will expand their network capacity to connect 2-million subscribers.

Mobitel is conducting trial services for third generation o