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ATO Hits Optus With Own Goal Tax Bill

Singapore Telecommunications the owners of Optus have been hit with a $326M dollar tax bill by the ATO, the tax dates back, to its takeover of Optus in 2001 for $17.2 billion.

This is the first time Singtel has revealed the size of the potential bill.

Yesterday Singtel noted in its quarterly results it may pay the tax bill from the current financial year’s free cash flow. It estimates free cash flow of $1.4 billion, but a footnote added this figure is “excluding payment to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) in respect of the amended assessments received on 2 November 2016 from the determinations on the acquisition financing of Optus”.

They are also set to contest the amount.

In other News Optus added 107,000 post-paid handset customers for its latest quarter, ended September  It also saw Optus gain 84,000 mobile customers during the quarter, bringing its mobile base to 9.42 million. Optus also had 164,000 broadband customers on the National Broadband Network, up 130pc year-on-year, the telco says.

But net profit for the quarter at $184 million was slashed 20 percent from the same quarter last year – largely due to its expenses in establishing its streaming of English Premier Leagure football. Operating revenue declined nine per cent year-on-year to $2.1 billion

CEO Allen Lew defended the spending, saying the results “reflect Optus’ efforts to drive customer growth through differentiated content. Optus has successfully deepened its engagement with customers, achieving a record quarter of customer growth for our branded mobile business, and strong demand for Optus’s unique entertainment content.”

During the quarter, he said, Optus had continued to focus on enhancing network capacity and extending its 4G footprint to 95.7pc of Australians.

In Singapore, parent company Singtel reporter group revenue of S$4.09 billion for the half year ended 30 September, down 2.3%. Net profit was $972 million, down 5.6% in the same quarter last year.

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