Se­ri­ous but in­no­va­tive

Finweek English Edition - - Companies & markets - FROM THE AN­NUAL RE­PORT BELINDA AN­DER­SON

HATS OFF to Dat­aPro for the lay­out of its latest an­nual re­port. Clev­erly styled as an is­sue of The Econ­o­mist mag­a­zine, the up­date to share­hold­ers suc­cess­fully po­si­tions the com­pany as a se­ri­ous, but in­no­va­tive and quirky player. Many an­nual re­ports are daunt­ing by their sheer size and of­ten-sim­i­lar lay­outs. Dat­aPro’s latest of­fer­ing makes you want to read it from cover to cover over cof­fee on a Sun­day morn­ing.

For Dat­aPro to de­scribe 2006 as its most suc­cess­ful year ever is no un­der­state­ment. On top of a re­ally good set of num­bers, Dat­aPro also made sev­eral key ac­qui­si­tions, and an­nounced its in­ten­tion to buy least cost rout­ing player Orion Tele­com in a R380m deal that adds sig­nif­i­cant clout to the group. It also ap­pointed moun­tain­climb­ing tech­nol­ogy en­tre­pre­neur and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Tony van Marken to its board as chair­man, dou­bled its staff com­ple­ment, and signed up sig­nif­i­cantly more new cus­tomers to its cor­po­rate and con­sumer In­ter­net and voice of­fer­ings.

The tele­coms mar­ket is dereg­u­lat­ing, and Dat­aPro has po­si­tioned it­self well to cap­i­talise on that. But, it has also been close to the re­al­ity that change comes more slowly than ex­pected, with de­lays in get­ting in­ter­con­nect agree­ments in place to en­able it to pass voice traf­fic over to the large op­er­a­tors and other VANS (value added net­work ser­vice) li­censees. The an­nual re­port in­cludes an opin­ion piece by Vox­T­ele­com man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jaco Voigt on why in­ter­con­nec­tion is the key to un­lock­ing tele­coms mar­kets, but why it will in­evitably take time for new VoIP (voice over In­ter­net pro­to­col, or In­ter­net net­works) en­trants to in­tro­duce their voice ser­vices.

But, with in­ter­con­nec­tion ar­range­ments fi­nally in place, Dat­aPro does ex­pect VoIP sub­sidiary Vox­T­ele­com – which grew from R6,3m to R36,3m in rev­enue last year – to in­crease vol­umes sig­nif­i­cantly this com­ing fi­nan­cial year.

Dat­aPro direc­tors’ for­tunes are tied in with those of the com­pany – they own 32,13% be­tween them – and with a mod­est direc­tors salary bill of R2,8m last year (R2,68m ex­ec­u­tive and R116 000 for nonex­ec­u­tive fees), they can hardly be con­sid­ered to be fleec­ing the cor­po­rate cof­fers.

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