Hong Kong Broadband Network eyes mergers and acquisitions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 April, 2016, 11:02am

Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN), the city’s second-largest residential broadband service provider, said on Wednesday that it would consider more mergers and acquisition opportunities, after posting a healthy rebound in profits for the six months ended February 29.

HKBN chief executive William Yeung Chu-kwong said that the company was “open to making another acquisition if the price is right”.

His statement comes close on the heels of HKBN’s purchase of New World Telephone Holdings’ fixed-line broadband network and online marketing operations for about HK$650 million.

Yeung said HKBN was “also open to selling if the price is right”. He added, however, that the “focus is on building a strong foundation for future growth”.

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The company reported an interim net profit of HK$135 million for the six months to February, compared with a HK$47-million loss during the same period last year.

In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday, HKBN said the significant improvement was aided by a substantial growth in subscriber numbers in the residential and enterprise market segments.

Total revenue rose 9 per cent to HK$1.226 billion, up from HK$1.126 billion a year earlier, despite stiff competition in the residential segment against the PCCW group’s HKT.

HKBN’s residential revenue grew 3 per cent year on year to HK$899 million, while its market share advanced to 37.7 per cent as of January 31, from 36.6 per cent at the end of August 31.

For the six months to February 29, HKBN added 38,000 new customers, taking the total number of its residential customers to 792,000.

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Enterprise sales rose 17 per cent year on year to HK$269 million as the firm’s market share reached 15.4 per cent as of January 31, compared with 14.3 per cent in August 31. The company added 4,000 new enterprise customers to take its total to 43,000 for the six-month period.

“HKBN is exploring further mergers and acquisitions in the long term – for expanding enterprise reach and its entry into the mobile segment,” Nomura research analysts Gopa Kumar and Sachin Gupta said in a report.

The analysts pointed out that the recent takeover of New World Telephone Holdings’ fixed-line broadband network and online marketing operations was “progressing well and should allow HKBN to tap into more small and medium-sized enterprises”.

That merger, which was completed on March 31, was estimated to result in a telecommunications operation with more than HK$3 billion in revenue annually, of which more than HK$1 billion would be from enterprise customers.

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“We’ve just leapfrogged four to five years of organic growth and doubled our enterprise solutions business overnight with this deal,” HKBN chief financial officer Lai Ni Quiaque told the South China Morning Post in February. “We’re continuing to grow and [are] on track to becoming the largest broadband provider in Hong Kong by 2019.”

HKBN has invested HK$4.1 billion in fixed assets over the past 14 years, establishing one of the most extensive fibre-optic networks in Hong Kong.

The company’s share price reached an intraday high of HK$9.61 before closing at HK$9.55 on Wednesday.