‘GO’s sustainable growth driving shareholder value’

‘GO’s sustainable growth driving shareholder value’

GO Group’s journey started from being a state-owned company to becoming a technology-driven success story. What were the main challenges?

Our journey dates back to 1974 when GO – Telemalta at the time – was given rights to be the first provider of telecommunications services in Malta. Since its privatisation and listing on the Malta Stock Exchange, GO went on to become a leading communications provider, connecting hundreds of thousands of customers across Malta and Cyprus to what matters most to them.

Transforming a state-owned company to a private one required a significant culture shift in our people and the country as a whole – through more streamlined processes, hefty investment in technology and infrastructure. We also had to be innovative in our products and services to remain competitive. All of this had to materialise within a highly regulated environment.

Our biggest culture transformation, however, happened over the past five years, with a shift towards becoming a more purpose-driven organisation. Today, our purpose, which is to drive a digital Malta where no one is left behind, shapes all decision-making within GO.

From a state-owned company 17 years ago, GO today is one of Malta’s largest group of companies boasting majority holdings in BMIT Technologies plc, Connected Care Ltd, SENS Innovation Group Ltd and CyberSift Holdings Ltd, as well as Cablenet Communications Systems plc in Cyprus.

Perhaps this growth has been reflected in GO’s most recent results.

Most definitely. During 2022, the GO Group achieved its highest ever revenue of €214.6 million. This equates to a 10.8 per cent increase over 2021. Taking a closer look at the Malta operations, namely GO Telecoms and BMIT Technologies, revenues grew by 7.6 per cent, predominantly driven by strong subscriber growth.

GO successfully captured a significant share of the overall market growth. However, 2022 was also a post-pandemic economic rebound year which saw a consequential increase in demand for communications services and us launching innovative products and services.

BMIT Technologies remains Malta’s largest provider of colocation and datacentre services and a leading cloud and managed IT services provider. The company grew its revenues by €0.5 million or two per cent over the previous year. 2022 was a particularly challenging year for BMIT, which, just like many other businesses, was hit by the global recession and further impacted by an accelerated drive towards cloud technology.

BMIT is now preparing itself for a transformative year as it moves towards becoming an even stronger technology and cybersecurity adviser.

Cablenet experienced a phenomenal 19.4 per cent growth in revenues, which totalled €63.9 million, driven predominantly by a 102 per cent growth in its mobile subscriber base, which doubled to 93,000 connections at the end of 2022. This growth is driven mainly by its hugely popular Purple Max post-paid plans which provide an excellent value proposition to customers. Mobile revenues alone grew from €4.4 million in 2021 to €10.3 million in 2022, equating to a staggering 134 per cent year-on-year growth.

Complementing this revenue growth is strict cost discipline across all operations and subsidiaries of the group. This enabled us to convert a significant portion of the incremental revenues generated into profitability.

The nature of our businesses and expertise across the group have also enabled us to create greater efficiencies in our operations, for example, by engaging in joint procurement of goods and services and sharing of technical, commercial and governance best practices.

Consequently, the group has achieved the highest ever EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of €81.4 million, an increase of €8.1 million or 11.1 per cent. Group profit for the year amounted to €12.2 million, an increase of €1.7 million, or 16.7 per cent.

How does a Maltese company like GO look beyond our shores for growth?

We do so by understanding market dynamics, potential opportunities, customer needs, the competitive and regulatory landscape and cultural differences, particularly when seeking opportunities in other countries.

Financial viability, potential revenue streams and cost of entry are important factors which we align with GO’s long-term financial goals and risk appetite as we apply our expertise and competencies in new markets. Cablenet in Cyprus was a good fit for us because the nature of the business is the same and synergies were there from the start.

Strategic partnerships allow us to capitalise on shared knowledge and experience to overcome barriers and establish a stronger foothold in the new market, as Cablenet’s growth over the past three years has shown us. It has since invested in its own mobile spectrum, allowing it to operate from its own mobile network and to roll out fibre to thousands of homes and businesses in Cyprus.

I think the biggest achievement was Cablenet being the first foreign company to be listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. This shows the confidence the market has in GO Group, in our vision, as well as in the mutual trust between the Maltese and Cypriot markets.

Cablenet is not the only foreign company GO has invested in. Through our investment arm – GO Ventures – we have invested in multiple start-ups over the past years and look forward to seeing where these investments will take us.

How many employees are employed across the three companies?

As at end of 2022, the group employed 1,198 employees. Our talent acquisition strategy has evolved and today GO employs location-based employees, hybrid employees and remote employees from across the globe, including countries like India, Philippines, Belarus, Morocco, Spain, Pakistan, Poland, Turkey, Nigeria and Tunisia, among others. This makes the GO Group truly multinational and multicultural.

Given these different cultures, what are the common values?

Our core values are the same throughout: we obsess about our customers, we act as one tea and act like an owner in the interest of each other and the business.

How is the group leveraging the power of technology for sustained growth?

Technology is at the core of our growth strategy. Our belief in the importance of continuous investment in infrastructure and technology has made GO the largest investor in Malta’s digital infrastructure – with over €100 million invested in True Fibre to the Home, over €25 million in a third submarine cable to connect Malta to mainland Europe and €16 million in a new 5G mobile network.

We are also investing heavily in IoT to bring better and more innovative products to our customers.

As a leading provider of data centre, cloud and managed IT services, BMIT continues to leverage technology, such as cloud computing, cybersecurity and big data analytics to allow customers to help businesses across Malta and beyond to digitally transform and achieve their own growth goals.

Cablenet, on the other hand, operates in a more competitive market with four other licensed operators, so leveraging technology for its growth is even more important. It has invested heavily in its IT infrastructure to deliver high-speed broadband and television services, as well as an advanced mobile network.

Investing in technology also helps our sustainability efforts because we strongly believe that greener operations indirectly also drive growth. Which is what led GO to acquire majority shareholding in SENS, an IoT company that uses green technology to help other business and operations become more energy efficient.

More recently, GO also acquired majority shareholding in Cybersift, a security services company assisting hundreds of companies in Malta, Italy and the US improve their cyber security by using machine learning to provide them with advanced, self-learning tools for detecting threats. This investment allows us to offer world-class products to our business clients to achieve digital growth in an even more secure environment.

How is the group applying its ESG values? Are these implemented independently or as a group?

Every company’s social and moral obligation should see it integrating environmental social governance into its business.

While each company implements its social aspect of ESG according to its purpose and values, there is more commonality when it comes to the environment and governance aspect, particularly with governance matters since the three main operating companies are publicly listed companies.

When it comes to environmental sustainability, we have signed up to science-based targets that will set us on the path to reduce our carbon footprint by 46.2 per cent by 2030 and by 90 per cent by 2045.

What can you tell me about near future plans for the three companies?

We remain committed to delivering increased value to our customers, by investing in our respective countries and our people, while generating returns for our shareholders. We cannot do this without nurturing the right culture within the group, so we will continue to work together, strengthen synergies and seek further growth opportunities – together.

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