My dear fellow Shareowners,
Under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, the Indian economy has continued its high growth momentum. According to the International Monetary Fund, India is forecast to grow at 7.4% in 2018, making us the fastest-growing economy in the world. Series of new initiatives initiated by the Government have moved India into world’s top countries towards ease of doing business. The global economy is also growing at its fastest pace and expected to strengthen further in years to come.
The Indian telecom sector saw significant challenges for the most part of Financial Year 2017-18, as free voice calls and ultra-cheap data access saw operators forcibly rein in tariffs. Hyper-competition in the sector brought significant disruption and impacted the sector’s operational and financial health. As evident from the latest sector revenue report released by the TRAI, the wireless sector continued to be on a downward spiral, with more than 21% revenue decline on Year-on-Year basis and revenue market size contracting by over Rs.26,000 crores on an annualized basis. As a result, all operators’ financial performance, including your Company, was adversely impacted for the second year in a row. The Company exited the wireless B2C business on January 31, 2018.
Your Company is actively pursuing an asset-light strategy with focused execution of various consolidation and asset monetization initiatives. During the year and in the last few months, your Company has made steady progress in execution of these transactions:
Strategic Corporate Transactions
- RCOM’s acquisition of Sistema Shyam Teleservices Limited - the first consolidation in the Indian telecom sector
The Board of Directors of the Company on October 31, 201 7, took on record the merger of Indian telecom business of Sistema Shyam Teleservices Limited (SSTL) in to the Company and allotted equity shares to the tune of 10% of the equity shareholding of the Company to SSTL.
- Debt Restructuring and Asset Monetization Plans
As stated, the challenges being faced by the telecom sector have resulted in industry-wide muted growth in revenues, stagnant margins and free cash flows. This impacted the Company as well, leading to a default on debt servicing obligations. After due deliberations, the Company and its two subsidiaries lenders on June 2, 2017 constituted a Joint Lenders’ Forum and invoked the SDR Scheme in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India.
Subsequently, RCOM has taken significant steps to reduce debt and improve long-term sustainability. We closely worked with the lenders to monetize many of our assets, such as wireless spectrum, towers, fiber, media convergence nodes (MCNs) and sundry real estate. Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City (DAKC) campus in Navi Mumbai is planned to be developed under fintech policy of Govt. of Maharashtra. The Company plan to develop 30 million sq.ft. of commercial space over next 10-12 years and lease it to corporate and commercial establishment.
The proceeds of this asset monetization will be used to repay debt and reduce liabilities. RCOM expects to complete this monetization plan by last quarter of 2018, thereby achieving overall significant debt reduction from this first phase of the asset monetization plan.
Following the closure of B2C wireless business, Reliance Communications Limited (RCOM), is now a pure-play enterprise telecommunications service provider at the forefront of enabling a digital revolution across India and globally, with a sharp focus on the Emerging Markets of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. RCOM is no longer affected by the severe and prolonged wireless sector hyper competition.
RCOM conducts a substantial portion of its business through subsidiary companies, including Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), Reliance Communications Infrastructure Limited (RCIL) and Reliance Infratel Limited (RITL). RCOM together with its subsidiary companies, is a proven leading global communications services provider, with businesses including a vast global subsea cable business; a global on-Net Cloud ecosystem; extensive India and global enterprise business; India Data Center business (IDC) and the India National Long Distance (NLD) business.
RCOM already owns the very fabric that will deliver the next generation of applications and services to Enterprises, Carriers, OTTs and Government entities. The highly valuable assets in your Company comprise extremely difficult to replicate infrastructure including the global subsea cable system connecting 27 countries, pan-India Intercity and Intracity terrestrial fiber optic network, one of the largest data center footprints in India and a global managed services delivery platform catering to leading multinational companies.
As a pure B2B player, RCOM is best positioned to capture disproportionate market share in the fast growing enterprise data and data center market in India and will reimain focused on:
1. stable enterprise communications services and the rapidly growing data center space in India.
2. global subsea cable business in enterprise data across continents, with over 300 enterprise and carrier customers worldwide.
3. serve approximately 35,000 customers worldwide vis-a-vis 12 crore customers inclusive of B2C earlier;
4. employ approximately 3,400 employees vis-a-vis peak of 52,000, a reduction of 94%.
With above focus, RCOM operational business will remain fully insulated from the hyper competition, mega capex requirements, financial stress of the wireless sector. Going forward, investments in improving network and spectrum efficiency, network coverage, content, Cloud, virtualization and analytics will drive revenue growth and profitability.
The key financial highlights for the year under review on a consolidated basis are:
- Total revenue of Rs.4,684 crore (US$ 719 million)
- Total EBITDA of Rs.899 crore (US$ 138 million)
- Net loss after tax of Rs.24 crore (US$ 4 million)
- Total assets of Rs.74,578 crore (US$ 1 1,443 million)
Shareholders equity was Rs.2,783 crore (US$ 427 million) while the net debt (excluding cash and cash equivalent) was Rs.46,470 crore (US$ 7,130 million), giving a net debt to equity ratio of 16.7 times.
Reliance Communications Limited, is a constituent of the Reliance Group which is a prominent business house, widely recognized in India and abroad as one of the leading creators of projects of national importance in infrastructure, power generation, transmission & distribution, financial services, defence manufacturing, entertainment and telecommunications, amongst others.
The Reliance Group has the largest investor base in India with over 15.5 million retail investors. Reliance Group has over 75,000 employees and serves over 200 million customers. The Reliance Group has assets under management of over Rs.4.5 lakh crore and also manages Government of India’s Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) and Coal Mines Provident Fund Organisation (CMPFO) Funds.
Currently, the Reliance Group has assets worth Rs.3,50,000 crore, net worth of Rs.70,000 crore and cash flows of over Rs.21,000 crore.
We are confident about the growth outlook of the Indian telecom sector and the opportunities for your Company in the enterprise data and data center market, despite the high levels of competitive intensity presently being observed. Our founder, the legendary Padma Vibhushan Shri Dhirubhai H. Ambani, gave us a simple mantra-”To aspire to the highest global standards of quality, efficiency, operational performance and customer care”. We remain committed to upholding that vision and creating greater value in the long term for all our stakeholders.
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani