This morning, Belize Telemedia Limited, aka Digi, held its 16th Annual General Meeting to report to its shareholders and citizens about how the state-owned telecoms company performed during the last financial year.

The past 12 months were the new Board of Directors' first as the stewards of the company, and they are reporting profit margins of 16.1 million dollars. That's 10.7 million more than the company's performance of the previous year. So, the new management was determined to turn things around for the company.

Viewers may remember that during last year's AGM, they broke the bad news that DIGI made meager profits during the worst parts of the COVID pandemic. So, the leaders set a target of an 8% rate of return for the following financial year. After completing all the calculations, they realized the company met and exceeded that by an additional 0.6%.

The Board of Directors presided over today's AGM, conducted via teleconference for their shareholders. 7News attended that virtual session, and here's what the Board Chairman had to say during his prepared remarks:

Markhelm Lizarraga - Chairman, BTL Board of Directors
"Ladies and gentlemen, this year's AGM hold special significance as it is the first occasion that your new Board of Directors has served its complete year, one complete year at the helm of the company. And I am extremely pleased to report to you today that BTL has had the solid financial year 2021/2022. BTL performed exceptionally well, despite all the challenges we've had locally and globally and despite all the challenging economic times and conditions. Our consolidated revenues were 141.3 million, providing a significant improvement in the company's net income, bringing it to 16.1 million for this fiscal year just past. This 16.1 million profit for BTL, ladies, and gentlemen, represents a 10.7 million or 197% increase from the previous year's figure of 5.4 million. As a result of this performance, the level of earnings per share has quadrupled to $0.29 from $0.07 the previous fiscal year. Our return on equity was 8.6%, or 80% improved as compared to the previous year. As a result of the improved financial performance, we are happy to announce that dividends per share will be doubled compared to the previous year. I am sure small shareholders will be especially pleased, Mr. Eusey."

BTL's Growth Expectations

Shortly after the conclusion of the virtual AGM, the Board Chairman and the CEO of Digi hosted a short press briefing to discuss a few of the important takeaways from today's AGM. Here's what the Chairman had to say about their business strategies that resulted in a significant improvement in revenues over the previous year:

Markhelm Lizarraga - Chairman, BTL Board of Directors
"I think one of the biggest things that I mean - and the financials will show it - is that we really started focusing on improving efficiency, lowering costs, keeping a tight rein on cost, renegotiating again with our suppliers, with the providers, and just trying to be very prudent with every penny that we spent. And so I think that was one of the major contributing factors for a marked improvement. I mean, we have the full cooperation of our managers and our staff. Everybody understands the need for us to become viable and profitable. And we couldn't have done it without the contributions and efforts made by all our staff in this regard."

Ivan Tesecum - CEO, Belize Telemedia Limited
"Some of the strategies and initiatives that we have done in the previous year continued to bear fruit in this fiscal year. So certainly, as the Chairman rightly said, we have improved efficiencies. We also ensured that we got more out of our assets in terms of the infrastructure that we built. One of the important things that we also saw is this demand - pent-up demand - for broadband services. So, that certainly also helped us to see and to better monetize the fiber to the home network, which again is the only fiber to the home network in the country of Belize. And so, that certainly helped to put us where we are, along with the cost-saving initiatives that continue into this fiscal year. And all of that resulted in four main things in terms of financial results. And I'm happy to state for our shareholders: one 197% increase in net income to 16.1 [million], [2], an increase in return on equity, [3], quadrupling of earnings per share from $0.07 to $0.09, and [4] over 100% are more than double the dividends per share. Last year, we declared 6.2 and this year, we're happy, as a result of that financial performance and success - of which I want to thank everyone, the board, the management, the staff - resulted in us going from 6.2 cents to 13 cents. So certainly, our shareholders saw and will see better dividends and returns on their investment in BTL, Digi, and our National Telecom."

We also asked the head table about the earnings from their traditional services, such as SMS texting and telephone calls, especially in the data era, where options such as WhatsApp calls and Facebook messenger dominate. So, how are they working to remain relevant in that business environment? Here's what they told us:

Ivan Tesecum - CEO, Belize Telemedia Limited
"Certainly, the shift, as you rightly mentioned, Mr. Ortiz, is not unique to us. It's complete worldwide in the telecommunications space. So, we, as communications service providers or CSPs, realize that fact. And one of our strategies for us is for us to differentiate the services that we offer and then have a strategy for value. And secondly, we also need to diversify from our core telecom, which when I speak about core telecom, it's voice, SMS, and data, and to go into other services that help to fill that revenue that may not be gotten as a result of these over the internet providers, that really continue to use the broadband network, but do not use the full - or the customers don't have to pay for it, as much as they would. So, that is what we've done. That is the reason why part of our strategy is that at the end of March, we launched our Digi Wallet, which is the only mobile payment platform system in the country of Belize. And secondly, we then now offer content services. So, we are the only quad-play provider in the country of Belize. And what do I mean by quad-play? We are the only one that can offer four services: your home phone, your mobile, your broadband, and now content for entertainment purposes. So that's the strategy that we have acquired. And whilst we are new to it, we expect that it will continue to bear fruit in the coming years, as we see that diversification of revenue."

The company is hoping to reach a 9% return on equity for the upcoming financial year.

Channel 7