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Telus International’s revenue got a boost from its recent acquisitions during its first quarter as a public company, and its chief executive officer sees further growth on the horizon as the global economy begins to emerge from the pandemic.

The offshoot of Telus Corp. , which began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange in February, increased its first-quarter revenue by 57 per cent to $505-million. Stripping out the impact of its recent acquisitions of data annotator Lionbridge and Berlin-based content moderator Competence Call Center, Telus International’s quarterly revenue grew by 20 per cent, the company said in a news release on Friday.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic created opportunities for the business and IT services company by accelerating the global shift to a digital economy, some of Telus International’s customers – notably in the ride-sharing and travel industries – took a hit, president and chief executive officer Jeff Puritt said.

“We are already starting to see pick-up in both of those [businesses],” Mr. Puritt said in an interview on Friday. “As the vaccine becomes more widely available … and traditional travel and venturing outdoors returns to near [pre-pandemic] levels, we’re looking forward to continued growth.”

Telus International had $3-million of profit for the three-month period ended March 31, down from $11-million a year ago. The earnings amounted to 1 cent per diluted share, compared to 5 cents per diluted share during the same period last year.

The company – which provides outsourced online customer service for brands such as Fitbit Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and online gamer Zynga Inc. – attributed the decline to the impact of share-based compensation, acquisition and integration charges and amortization.

After adjusting for those items, its profit was up 293 per cent from a year ago to $59-million. Telus International had 23 cents of adjusted diluted earnings per share, up from 7 cents during the same period last year.

Telus launched the division 15 years ago as a call centre operator for itself and a handful of U.S. telecom and technology firms. Since then, Telus International has expanded into services such as moderating content online, developing and supporting mobile apps and building virtual assistants such as chatbots. It currently serves companies in technology and gaming, communications and media, e-commerce and fintech, travel and hospitality, and health care.

In late 2020, Telus International got into the data annotation business through the $1.2-billion acquisition of Lionbridge AI. The company, which is based in Waltham, Mass., labels data such as pictures, text, video and audio so that they can be used to develop artificial-intelligence algorithms. The acquisition followed the purchase of Competence Call Center for $1.3-billion – a deal that gave Telus International greater scale in the content moderation business.

Telus decided to take the unit public in order to give it its own valuation, which will help Telus International make future acquisitions. Companies in the high-growth IT services industry are typically valued at much higher multiples than those in the relatively slow-growing domestic telecom space.

Mr. Puritt said Telus International has dozens of exciting opportunities to extend its capabilities through acquisitions.

“There are a whole bunch of cool, neat things that are natural extensions to what we already have,” Mr. Puritt said. “The challenge for us is focusing and prioritizing and doing it in a thoughtful and disciplined fashion,” he added.

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