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APTT posts 81.5% drop in Q4 DPU to 0.3 Singapore cent

ASIAN Pay Television Trust (APTT) announced a distribution per unit (DPU) of 0.3 Singapore cent for its fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2018, 81.5 per cent lower than 1.625 Singapore cents for the year-ago period. Total distribution for the quarter stood at S$4.3 million, down 81.5 per cent from S$23.3 million in the previous year.

The pay-TV-focused trust had noted in its 2018 financial results that DPU would be lower for the whole of 2019, as a part of APTT’s debt management programme, which also includes refinancing and extension of interest rate swaps.

It expects to continue to pay 0.3 Singapore cent per unit quarterly through to 2020.

The lower distribution offered a potential for future unit buybacks, said the trust. Depending on its performance for
2019 and 2020, the distribution level could be adjusted after 2020.

Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) for the quarter was 15.1 per cent lower at S$44.0 million compared to S$51.8 million a year ago. Revenue came in at S$79.5 million, a drop of 6.2 per cent from S$84.7 million for the year-ago quarter.

The trust's full-year revenue came in at S$313.9 million, down 6.3 per cent from S$334.8 million a year ago, while annual Ebitda dropped 8.4 per cent to S$184.6 million from S$201.4 million in 2017. Total operating expenses for the year rose 3.1 per cent to S$129.3 million from S$133.4 million previously.

Brian McKinley, chief executive officer of APTT, said: "The successful refinancing and extending of the interest rate swaps in November 2018 form an important part of our debt management programme as they will lower our borrowing costs by approximately S$9 million per year and provide funding certainty for the next three years.

"The revised distribution guidance of 1.20 cents per year for 2019 and 2020 will also result in annual cash savings of over S$76 million, enabling the trust to use operational cash flows to fund capital expenditure and reduce the dependence on borrowings."

He added that the trust is "cognisant of the saturated cable TV market in Taiwan and that the growing popularity of online TV and internet retailing will continue to put pressure on the demand for cable TV services and ARPU" and "significant efforts have been channelled to grow APTT's broadband business in recent years".

The company added 13,000 units, or more than 6 per cent, to its broadband revenue generating units for 2018.

APTT's counter closed at Monday's lunch break down 0.3 Singapore cent at S$0.13.

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