In 2020, the Company coordinated COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control activities, as well as promoted our operational development. We deepened development of resource sharing and seized the opportunities arising from accelerated 5G network construction by promoting our “One Core and Two Wings”（一體兩翼） strategy to further strengthen our core competencies. As a result, our operations gained fresh vitality and our overall performance maintained stable.
Our revenue maintained stable and healthy growth in 2020 while profitability continued to improve. Our operating revenue for 2020 recorded a 6.1% year-on-year increase to reach RMB81,099 million; our EBITDA1 amounted to RMB59,527 million, with a 73.4% EBITDA margin2. Profit attributable to owners of the Company totaled RMB6,428 million, up by 23.1% over the previous year, with a net profit margin of 7.9%.
Our cash flow remained strong while the debt leveraging level was stable and healthy. Net cash generated from operating activities amounted to RMB57,548 million in 2020. Capital expenditures amounted to RMB37,122 million, while our free cash flow3 reached RMB20,426 million. As of 31 December 2020, our total assets reached RMB337,380 million and interest-bearing liabilities amounted to RMB112,871 million, with a gearing ratio4 of 36.7%.
Aligned with our commitment to providing good returns to our shareholders, the Board of Directors recommends to pay a final dividend of RMB0.02235 (pre-tax) per share for the year ended 31 December 2020, equivalent to a payout ratio of 68% of our annual distributable net profit.
In 2020, we fully focused on implementing the “One Core and Two Wings” strategy to enhance our advantage on resource sharing and strengthen our core competitiveness. Our TSP business experienced stable and healthy growth, while the TSSAI and energy operation businesses expanded rapidly.
Supporting 5G network construction efficiently and maintaining stable growth in TSP business
In 2020, in view of the accelerated 5G network deployment and the scaling of 5G construction, we strengthened the market-oriented approach with customer demands and 5G new features in mind. We continued to drive resource sharing by making full use of both existing resources and social resources and stepping up technological and product innovation to drive construction and service model transformation. By accelerating the implementation of our integrated wireless communications coverage solutions, we were able to meet customer demands with cost-effective, intensive and high-performing network coverage solutions. Our competitive advantages in low cost, high efficiency and quality services were further reinforced, supporting the stable growth of our TSP business.
As of the end of 2020, we managed a total of 2.023 million tower sites, representing an increase of 29,000 compared to the end of 2019. The number of TSP tenants reached 3.175 million, representing an increase of 112,000 compared to the end of 2019. Our TSP tenancy ratio reached 1.57. With regard to our DAS business, we had covered buildings with a cumulative area of 4,060 million square meters, while high-speed railway tunnels and subway coverage totaled a cumulative length of 12,702 kilometers.
In 2020, our TSP business revenue reached RMB76,899 million, or a 3.8% increase year-on-year, among which tower business revenue increased by 2.8% to RMB73,371 million, while DAS business revenue increased by 32.7% to RMB3,528 million.
Fostering competitive advantages to accelerate the growth of Two Wings business
Developing through sharing and collaboration is our founding principle, which has enabled us to fully leverage our resources and strengths to promote product innovation and better platform operation in key sectors. The Two Wings business maintained a good development momentum and has become important driver for revenue growth and value enhancement. In 2020, the Two Wings business recorded revenue of RMB3,939 million, or a year-on-year increase of 89.4%.
The TSSAI business sustained rapid growth. Along with the accelerated pace of informatization across society, we captured timely opportunities to develop two types of services around resource sharing and data information. Targeting key clients in important sectors relating to national economy and people’s livelihoods, such as environmental protection, forestry, lands, water resources, we enhanced our integrated information service abilities and continued to deliver rapid growth in our TSSAI business. In 2020, revenue generated from our TSSAI business reached RMB3,004 million, or a year-on-year growth of 59.2%.
The energy operation business achieved considerable breakthrough in scale. Leveraging the advantage of our site resources and expertise in securing power supply and operation, we have taken proactive steps to expand socialized energy application and services. In 2020, aligned to our core business segments of battery exchange and power backup, we enhanced our product platform, expanded our customer base and built our brand advantages. While building up our market competitiveness, we achieved initial breakthrough in scale. As of 31 December 2020, we have cumulatively developed 301,000 paid users for our battery exchange services. In 2020, our energy operation business generated revenue of RMB935 million.
Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility
We were committed to developing corporate governance systems and implementing normative and effective governance mechanisms to enhance corporate governance. We placed great emphasis on comprehensive risk management and worked to improve our internal control and legal compliance systems on an ongoing basis to strengthen risk prevention and control, thus building a strong foundation to safeguard the Company’s sustainable development.
Our proactive approaches to fulfilling corporate social responsibilities and obligations and to promoting harmonious development of the Company and the society have won us wide recognition. In 2020, we spared no effort in safeguarding the urgent communications network construction during emergency and disaster relief missions, such as throughout the flood season and in the fight against COVID-19 epidemic. We implemented multiple measures to support emergency communications and ensure the smooth running of the network. In addition, we have invested in setting up and maintaining base stations in remote areas to effectively support TSPs in providing inclusive services. This was particularly important during the pandemic outbreak as we helped teaching staff and students in remote mountainous regions to overcome difficulties in having online lessons due to poor network coverage. We also contributed to poverty alleviation and rural revitalization in great efforts by exploring new and more precise poverty alleviation models and promoting IT applications. To put new development philosophy into practice, we drove energy saving and emissions reduction through the use of clean energy, which contributed to the energy optimization and green and low-carbon development of the wider community.
Looking forward, we will seize the opportunities to achieve the goal of building an enterprise with the best potential for growth and value creation. We will continue to uphold our resource sharing to promote stable revenue growth and enhance the value of our Company, and to achieve high-quality development featured “One Core and Two Wings” strategy.
Reinforcing core advantages to maintain stable growth of TSP business
Surrounding the scaling construction of 5G network, we will adapt to the changing internal and external operating conditions and leverage the positive policies to further enhance our competency on resource coordinating and sharing, in order to create value for the industry and our customers to achieve success for all. Sharing will remain the guiding principle of our development, which will include the wide use of our existing resources and social resources to deepen sharing within the industry and expand scope of sharing. We aim to turn our resource advantage into an edge to deliver high-quality growth. We will focus on customer demand and promote market-oriented development to innovate construction and service model and deploy resources precisely to improve integrated wireless communications coverage solutions. Through supporting TSPs with intensive and cost-effective wireless network construction, we are committed to becoming a first-class integrated communications infrastructure service provider in the world.
Capturing strategic development opportunities to accelerate the growth of Two Wings business
In view of the accelerated development of the digital economy and new energy sectors, we will unleash the synergies of resource sharing to play an active role in servicing the informatization of society and promoting new energy application. In terms of our TSSAI business, we will build on the overall trend of accelerated transformation of digitalization and intelligence in social governance and make use of our core resources and capabilities to step up research and development investment and collaboration within the ecosystem. We will make efforts to provide an information applications and products portfolio, supported by our video surveillance, data collection and field supervision platform. We will develop mid- and high-point monitoring into a competitive core business to support national economy and people’s livelihoods, as well as advance the informatization of society. We are committed to becoming an information application service provider, building on our strong “Digital Tower”. With regard to our energy operation business, we will again adhere to the principle of resource sharing and coordinating and focus on key segments, while collaborating with partners along the industry chain and accelerating product upgrade and innovation. We will further improve our platform support capability and enhance our customer experience. These approaches will help foster a low-cost and differentiated competitive advantage to promote the scale of the business, and support us in becoming a service provider of new energy with core competitiveness.
Furthering innovation and transformation to fuel the Company’s further development
We further adhere to technological innovation in leading the growth of our Company with strategies. Going forward, with the implementation of “One Core and Two Wings” strategy, we will continue to optimize our innovation system and mechanism through research and development of new technologies, new products and new applications in areas such as DAS sharing, 5G power access solutions, tower models and masts application, tower monitoring, edge computing, intelligent battery monitoring, to drive innovation and empower our business. Meanwhile, we will continue to develop an intensive and efficient operation and management mechanism, optimize business processes and strengthen IT support, all with an aim to achieve a more digitalized and intelligent operation and management model as well as to future-proof the operation of our platform and enhance the efficiency and benefits of our asset management. In terms of talent development, we will continue to introduce incentive schemes that are competitive in the market, to nurture a culture of efficiency and value creation and optimize resource deployment. We will channel resources to key roles and positions as well as to highly skilled talent, to motivate our staff, encourage an innovation mindset and boost growth across the Company.
Finally, on behalf of the Board, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our shareholders, customers and the wider public for your support, and to our employees for your hard work and dedication.
Beijing, China, 8 March 2021
- EBITDA is calculated by operating profit plus depreciation and amortization.
- EBITDA margin is calculated by dividing EBITDA by operating revenue, and multiplying the resulting value by 100%.
- Free cash flow is the net cash generated from operating activities minus the capital expenditures.
- Gearing ratio is calculated as net debts divided by the sum of total equity and net debt, then multiplied by 100%. Net debt is calculated as the amount of interest-bearing liabilities minus the amount of cash and cash equivalents.