Serious but innovative
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.