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Singapore: Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) beat forecasts with a 6% rise in third-quarter net profit, as strength in its regional affiliates helped overcome the negative impact of a volatile foreign currency market.

Southeast Asia’s largest telecommunications operator posted a net profit for the October-December quarter of S$872 million, beating an average forecast of S$857 million by five analysts polled by Reuters.

Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) were nearly flat from a year earlier at S$1.26 billion.

The company’s operating revenue declined 7.3% on the year to S$4.26 billion, hit by the sharp decline in the Australian dollar, it said on Thursday.

SingTel’s share of its associates’ pre-tax profits saw a strong 11% gain, mainly thanks to robust earnings growth from Bharti Airtel Ltd, the top mobile phone operator in India in which SingTel has a 32% stake.

Its total number of mobile customers increased 3% in the quarter to 501 million, SingTel said.

SingTel’s major overseas businesses are in Australia, India and Indonesia. The Australian dollar, the Indonesian rupiah and the Indian rupee declined 9%, 18% and 12%, respectively, against the Singapore dollar during the quarter.

The company revised guidance on segment performance for the fiscal year ending March 2014, expecting low double-digit declines in consumer business revenue and low single-digit falls in enterprise business income.

“We have updated our revenue guidance for Group Consumer and Group Enterprise as a result of the weak Australian dollar and the more cautious business environment and spending," Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said in a statement. Reuters

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