In 2020, the operator logged in a profit of Tk 3,718.7 crore, up 7.7 per cent year-on-year
2020 will most definitely go down in the annals of Grameenphone, the country’s leading mobile operator and the largest company on the bourse bmarket capitalisation, as its pluckiest yet.
The year started with a bitter battle in court with the telecom regulator and just as it was brought to a resolution of sorts, on came the global coronavirus pandemic, which left no business, regardless of shape and size, unscathed.
Just as the operator was navigating with the “new normal”, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in July slapped three restrictions on it to rein in its runaway market share.
And yet, the Telenor subsidiary prevailed, logging in record profit for the year.
In 2020, the operator logged in a profit of Tk 3,718.7 crore, up 7.7 per cent year-on-year.
During the year, the operator added on 25.75 lakh subscribers to take the tally to 7.9 crore, which 46.5 per cent of the market, further cementing its position as the market leader.
At the end of 2019, Grameenphone’s market share was 46.2 per cent, and it is this dominance that made the BTRC slap the operator with the Significant Market Power restrictions back in July.
A mobile network operator can be labelled an SMPif it controls more than 40 per cent share of any parameter, according to the guidelines.
As per the SMP restrictions, Grameenphone has to secure prior approval from the BTRC before rolling out any packages or offers.The carrier would not be able to change or amend any of the conditions of approved packages or offers without consent from the commission.
The BTRC also made it easier for subscribers to leave Grameenphone under the mobile number portability (MNP) facility.
If a user wants to switch to another network, they will have to stay with the new carrier for at least 90 days. But subscribers can now abandon Grameenphone after just 60 days.
The third restriction made Grameenphone pay 3 paisa more to non-SMP operators for per minute calls its subscribers make to another network.
Grameenphone has to pay 10 if its subscriber makes a call to another carrier, while the other three pay 7 paisa a minute to Grameenphone.
And yet, the operator consolidated its dominant position in 2020.
The year also started on a rough note for Grameenphone, as it fought the BTRC in court over unpaid dues amounting to Tk 12,579.95 crore.
The regulator had tightened the leash on Grameenphone to get it to pay the sum, much to the detriment of the operator's business.
The operator had disputed the sum and was prepared to pay at most Tk 575 crore in instalments, but the court in February ordered it to pay Tk 2,000 crore.
But the full-year earnings report indicates the operator ended the year on a high.
Subsequently, its board of directors recommended a 145 per cent final cash dividend for the year, 15 percentage points more than in 2019.
Shares of Grameenphone, which gained 22.7 per cent in 2020, closed at Tk 373.5 yesterday, up 1.7 per cent from the previous day.
Grameenphone declined to comment for the report.