Online users remain unimpressed after Singtel CEO took 43% pay cut to S$3.5 million in challenging year hit

With a 44% drop in net profit in what was deemed as a year hit by “a perfect storm”, Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) CEO Chua Sock Koong’s saw her annual pay package dip to nearly half.

Ms Chua’s annual package now stands at S$3.5 million and it include bonuses and benefits such as car benefits, medical coverage and club membership. This is a decrease of about 43% as she made S$6.1 million last year, which excluded performance shares and share option expenses, based on the telco’s latest annual report.

Singtel announced last month that it only made a net profit of S$3.1 billion for the 12 months that ended in March. This is its lowest annual net profit in 16 years, 44% lower than the S$5.5 billion the company made a year ago, including a divestment gain from listing of its broadband unit NetLink NBN Trust.

Commenting on the telco’s poor performance, Chairman Simon Israel noted that FY2018/2019 is a “perfect storm with intensifying competition across all markets, particularly India and Indonesia, plus the added backdrop of heightened economic uncertainty”.

In addition to that, Singtel’s cybersecurity business Trustwave also showed a loss of S$102 million before interest and tax for the financial year, along with their Digital Life division which posted losses throughout the year. As for Amobee, it suffered a pre-tax loss of S$42 million.

Despite all these losses, Ms Chua highlighted that Singtel remains “confident” that Trustwave and Amobee will show revenue growth, although they’re not profitable yet.

She also noted in the annual report that the past year was “far from business as usual”.

“Competition intensified across virtually all our markets as operator jostled for market share while advances in technology continued to disrupt the telco industry, putting more pressure on prices and return on investment,” she commented.

On the other hand, Mr Israel explained that “part of our digital transformation involved making calculated investments in new business that would thrive in the future company”.

He also pointed out that the company’s investments in these subsidies “is not being recognised” as part of the share price, and the “management intends to unlock this value at the appropriate time”.

“In addition to acquisitions and organic growth, we are also looking at other investment strategies in which we identify and invest in emerging growth companies through Innov8, especially those that are filling the gaps left by traditional infrastructure or are disrupting and improving service delivery through their digital solutions,” he said.

Upon reading this news, netizens were not impressed at all with the deduction of Ms Chua’s annual income which is still on the higher end at S$3.5 million. Commenting on CNA’s Facebook page, they mocked her by saying that “life must be hard for her to survive now” . They sent her their “condolences” and made offerings of part-time jobs to ease her financial burden.

Some online users urged politicians to also take a pay cut since Ms Chua has done it. As such, they pointed out they’re “longing” to see politicians to take this step as they claim they put people first ahead of their “million dollars income”.

A few said that Singtel’s profit was on the lower end because many of their customers decided leave the service provider due to “overcharging” and rude customer service staff.