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Philippines' No. 2 cellphone service provider invests $850M

MANILA -- The telecommunications arm of Philippine conglomerate Ayala nearly tripled its net income last year, thanks to lower costs from a nearly completed network overhaul and record revenues.

     Net income of Globe Telecom, also partly owned by Singapore Telecommunications, ballooned 170% to 13.37 billion pesos ($303 million) in 2014. Its core profit, which strips out extraordinary gains and losses, climbed 25% to 14.49 billion pesos.

     Consolidated service revenues rose 9% to 99.03 billion pesos, propelled by sustained growth in the mobile, fixed line and data businesses.

     Mobile revenues, which make up nearly 80% of total revenues, jumped 7% to 78.7 billion pesos on the back of expanding numbers of post-paid subscribers, who usually pay a fixed amount every month for a minimum two-year locked-in subscription.

     Revenues from broadband services jumped 22% to 12.69 billion pesos amid growing demand for Internet services.

     Fixed-line data revenues went up 17% to 5.48 billion pesos while fixed-line voice revenues grew 7% to 2.79 billion pesos.

     Operating expenses and subsidies, meanwhile, increased 11% to 59.75 billion pesos due the continuing upgrade of the company's 4G network.

     Globe, which commands 30% of the Philippine's duopolistic telecommunications market, said it would spend $850 million this year, including $200 million from the unused portion of last year's capital expenditure budget, to further improve its network infrastructure.

     Encouraged by the results, Globe CEO Ernest Cu described 2014 as "a banner year," despite the fierce competition in the industry that sometimes forces carriers to offer free services to grab larger market share.

     Philippine Long Distance Telephone, which controls around 70% of the country's telecommunications market, has yet to release its results.

     But in the face of intensifying competition and flat revenue, PLDT had been forced to slash its core net profit target for this year to 37 billion pesos from the originally projected 39.5 billion pesos.

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