Singapore Telecom announced a healthy 11.6 per cent rise in annual profits yesterday to S$1.66 billion (about HK$8.98 billion), but chairman Koh Boon Hwee said he could not guarantee continued double digit net-earnings growth in the new year given the advent of competition. The telecom giant has enjoyed an average growth in net profits of 13.3 per cent over the past five years, since its listing in November 1993. With the introduction of three new paging operators and one cellular phone operator from April 1 this year, SingTel's directors admitted they were entering unchartered territory. They pledged to try and maintain double digit profit growth and said SingTel continued to enjoy strong take up rates for mobile phones and pagers. WorldCom International has joined the race to win a lucrative licence to operate fixed-line phone services in Singapore. The company is teaming up with Singapore MRT and SembCorp.