Fibre foments optimism but pandemic pulls down BT in fiscal 2020/21 | Major Businesses | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on key business units such as consumer and ongoing legacy product declines and divestments have been among the key drivers for what BT has called a challenging financial year.
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For the year ended 31 March 2021, the UK’s incumbent telco reported total revenue £21.331 billion, down 7% on an annual basis. A key part of BT’s annual revenue was reduced revenue from BT Sport and the closures of retail stores and pubs and clubs due to the pandemic. This was a consequence of the Premier League being postponed from March to June 2020.

Adjusted EBITDA was £7.415 billion, down 6% compared with the year ending 31 March 2020 just as the UK’s first lockdown was kicking in. Reported profit before tax was £1.804 billion, down 23% on the figure reported a year ago, primarily due to the reduced EBITDA.

The EBITDA fall was primarily due to the lower revenues, special frontline bonus, increased service costs and continued investment in copper-to-fibre migrations and the company’s fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) base. These were partly offset by sports rights rebates and cost savings including BT’s modernisation programme, what was called “tight” cost control and Covid-19 mitigation actions. BT’s capital expenditure grew 6% year-on-year to £4.216 billion up 6%, primarily due to increased network and equipment investment.

Commenting on the annual results, BT chief executive, Philip Jansen, conceded that BT had experienced a “challenging” year but had come out of it a stronger business with what he said was “an even greater sense of purpose.”

“After a number of years of tough work, and as we look to build back better from the pandemic, we’re now pivoting to consistent and predictable growth. We are building a better BT for our customers, for the country, for our shareholders and for those who work for this great company – now and in the future,” he remarked.

Jansen revealed that going forward a number of business uncertainties have now been removed and that through the UK government's Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review, 5G spectrum auction and the tax super-deduction it now had the green light to build next generation digital infrastructure and that it was increasing and accelerating its FTTP rollout target from 20 million to 25 million homes and businesses by December 2026.

At the end of April 2021, BT confirmed that it was undertaking discussions with a number of select strategic partners, to explore ways “to generate investment” and “strengthen” BT Sports and help “take it to the next stage in its growth.” A complete sale of the sports division was not denied.