Till Streichert: The finance team has met every milestone right up to reporting very pleasing results.
The Vodacom Group has reported a 4.8 percent rise in revenue for the year ended March 2020 to R90,75 billion.
Vodacom group CFO and 2017 CFO of the Year Award, Strategy Execution Award and Finance Transformation Award winner Till Streichert is “very happy” with the results despite the reporting period falling completely into the Covid-19 lockdown period. “While it has been a challenge to entirely complete a full year-end process remotely, I am enormously impressed with the manner in which the finance team has met every milestone right up to reporting a very pleasing set of results.”
He adds that connecting people is Vodacom’s business, so they have made sure everyone in the company was best equipped as far as possible so that they could work from home. “For me, this ‘remote year-end’ was the ultimate accolade for an incredibly capable finance team where excellent technical skills are combined with deep trust built over many years.”
About the results, Till says that they delivered strong headline earnings per share growth of 8.9 percent and a strong 6.3 percent growth in dividend per share. The company also added 5.9 million customers, to serve 116 million customers across the group and finished the year with solid commercial momentum.
“Covid-19 places unprecedented circumstances on everyone. Telecommunication is an essential service and we not only kept our customers connected but we are at the forefront of helping governments during this pandemic by making data and voice services available for critical and essential health workers, free rating of government health sites, donating 20,000 devices with airtime to the National Department of Health Covid-19 Information Centre,” Till says.
He adds that Vodacom zero-rated person-to-person transfers up to a certain threshold on M-Pesa in its international markets to enable contactless payments. “We saw data traffic increasing by up to 40 percent month on month as people worked from home, which underpins the importance of our services.”
Till says the Vodacom balance sheet is strong with a low gearing of 0.7 times net debt to EBITDA-aL, limited debt repayments in the short-term and sufficient liquidity. “We managed to keep 90 percent of our debt as rand-denominated, limiting the exposure to foreign currency. We maintained a market neutral position through having half our debt fixed and half our debt floating.”
In summary, he says that Vodacom is in a good position. “However, you won’t be surprised if I caution a little bit: the range of possible impacts that Covid-19 has on South Africa and our international markets is wide and with GDP contracting and disposable income coming under pressure consumers and businesses will be affected. We plan and continue to invest for the future and seize the opportunities.”
Till extends his “sincere thanks” to EY as this was their first full-year audit with Vodacom. “Together, we made it work.”
The Vodacom integrated report will soon be issued, featuring the company’s response to Covid-19 extensively. “A pandemic of this scale has not been on our risk radar for example and we take the learnings and will reflect this adequately for our stakeholders,” he concludes.