During the year FY 2018-19 the Indian Telecom Industry continued tosurpass more milestones notable among those being a nation of over a billion mobilephones & digital identities and half a billion internet users with the highest mobiledata consumption in the world. The digital wave is sweeping across the nation withexponential growth in data volumes witnessed among both on consumer and enterprise siderising consumption of content especially video proliferation of mobile-app based &e-commerce platforms among others. According to Department of Telecommunications"At the current pace of digitization and digitalization it is estimated thatIndia's digital economy has the potential to reach one trillion USD by 2025." Webelieve telecom infrastructure companies like ours will have a key role to play in thisgrowth as significant investments will be needed on the infrastructure side to providehigh-speed broadband to the masses and connectivity to all uncovered areas.
2018 marked the announcement of the much awaited "National DigitalCommunications Policy 2018" by Department of Telecommunications. This is a forwardlooking policy providing roadmap for the next level of growth and development of thecommunications sector. For companies engaged in telecom infrastructure the policy alsohas a number of positive developments such as enhanced scope of IP-1s to offer activeinfrastructure along with passive according the status of critical and essentialinfrastructure to telecom infrastructure facilitating
Fiber-to-the tower program to enable fiberization of at least 60%telecom towers and promoting collaborative models for provision of shared ductinfrastructure alongside roads/ highways IBS in buildings compulsory through NationalBuilding Code of India (NBC) among others. By encouraging and facilitating sharing in thepolicy we are more aligned than ever before with the Government on their vision ofDigital India. In terms of the industry landscape "Operator Consolidation" as atheme entered its last phase with the shutdown of few operators and the culmination of theVodafone-Idea and Airtel-Telenor mergers during the year. As a result the tower companiessaw significant exits of co-locations of these operators. Between Bharti Infratel andIndus Towers approximately 20% of opening co-locations were lost during the yeartranslating to approximately 75000 co-locations on an overall basis and approximately40000 co-locations on consolidated basis. However as stated before we believe the silverlining of this turmoil has been a favorable industry structure which from a peak of 14operators has now stabilized at 3 private operators along with a nationwideGovernment-operator presence in the form of BSNL and MTNL. In the long run this wouldresult in more nationwide rollouts as compared to regional strategies earlier.
On the operations side while new co-locations have been impacted bythe ongoing consolidation we have seen an all-time high 4G BTS deployment by operators inthe last year. Most of these were in the form of additional loading on existing towers.Given the high percentage of 3G/4G loaded towers we are now seeing healthy gross toweradditions which we believe is a leading indicator of co-location demand.
The key operational and financial highlights of the year were:
As on March 31 2019 the consolidated tower base stood at92277 with consolidated co-locations at 172724 Y-o-Y with a co-location factor of 1.87at closing. It is important to highlight that despite unprecedented loss of co-locationsthe overall financial performance for the year ended March 31 2019 has only beenmarginally lower than last year.
Consolidated revenues for the year at र145823 Mn grew 1%Y-o-Y
Consolidated EBITDA at
H60733 Mn declined 6% Y-o-Y
representing an operating margin of 41.6%.
Consolidated Profit after tax at र24938 Mn was largely flatY-o-Y
Operating Free Cash Flow at र42366 Mn grew 1% Y-o-Y
During the year we paid two interim dividends of र7.5 per shareaggregating to र15 per share as dividends for the year. Total cash outgo for thedividend for the full year inclusive of tax on dividend would amount to र33447 Mn~134% of the consolidated PAT.
On the shareholder base foreign ownership touched an all-time high of43.91% as on March 31 2019 as compared to 8.65% at the time of IPO in December 2012. Thisincludes 10.3% stake held by global private equity funds - KKR and CPPIB. We continued ourfocus on the "Green Towers P7 program" which is based on seven ideas aimed atminimizing dependency on diesel and thereby carbon footprint reduction. This programpromotes (a) improving energy efficiency of tower infrastructure equipment (b) use ofrenewable energy resources and (c) reduction of equipment load on tower infrastructureequipment.
We continued to evaluate our impact on environment and took steps tomove towards being a Green company. We continued to improve our Green footprint and movetowards more diesel free sites in the long-run. On a consolidated basis over 45000towers or 49% of our portfolio are Green as of March 31 2019.
In the last few years we have planted the seeds for venturing intoadjacent business opportunities which are emerging as the telecom industry undergoesanother transition. Both Infratel and our Joint Venture Indus have successfully rolledout Smart City projects in this endeavor. Last year Bharti Infratel made a majorannouncement regarding an agreement to merge Indus with Bharti Infratel. Since then theScheme of arrangement has received approval from Competition Commission of India and NoObjection from the SEBI through BSE Limited and National Stock Exchange of India Limited.Earlier this year the meeting of shareholders and unsecured creditors of the Company wasconvened on February 2 2019. The proposed resolution approving the Scheme of Arrangementwas passed by the requisite majority at the respective meeting of shareholders andcreditors. Approval from National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has also been obtained onMay 31 2019 and now the approval from Department of Telecommunications for FDI is awaitedand we hope that the merger would be completed in the next few months. To conclude webelieve with the backdrop of a forward looking National Digital Communications Policywhich lays an impetus on sharing infrastructure coupled with rapidly growing data demandand the global developments on 5G the future potential for passive infrastructurecompanies like ours is very bright in the coming years. We are fully prepared to exploitthis potential and meet all requirements of our customers for speedy rollouts.