Etisalat leaves dividend for 2016 unchanged

The unchanged dividend proposed is of 40 fils per share for the second half of 2016, after foreign currency losses and competitive pressures weighed on the annual results.

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Etisalat has proposed an unchanged dividend of 40 fils per share for the second half of 2016, after foreign currency losses and competitive pressures weighed on the operator’s annual results.

The telco’s proposed dividend, announced on the Abu Dhabi stock market yesterday, would bring the total dividend payable for the past year to 80 fils, in line with 2015’s payout.

The dividend announcement coincided with the release of Etisalat’s full consolidated results for last year, after the release of headline figures last month.

The operator revealed that annual operating profit before royalty payments fell in its three largest markets – the UAE, Morocco and Egypt – due to higher competitive pressures and forex losses.

However, annual profits rose 2 per cent to Dh8.4 billion for the year, following a 17 per cent drop in royalty payments to the Federal Government.

The Ministry of Finance announced last month that federal royalty payments would remain frozen at 15 per cent of annual revenues and 30 per cent of net income until 2021.

“In the face of global economic pressure, Etisalat Group has, once again, demonstrated strong performance, evidence of a business that is both robust and resilient,” Etisalat’s chairman, Eissa Mohamed Al Suwaidi, said in a statement.

Etisalat’s UAE operations saw a 5 per cent annual growth in revenues to Dh30.3bn for last year, thanks to a growth in eLife and mobile subscribers. However earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation remained flat due to higher regulatory charges, interconnection fees and marketing costs.

International revenues, meanwhile, fell 2 per cent year-on-year to Dh21.4bn, dragged lower following the devaluation of the Egyptian pound in November.

Revenue at its Egyptian subsidiary Etisalat Misr fell 11 per cent year-on-year to Dh4bn, even as revenues in local currency rose 8 per cent.

Increased competitive pressures across Etisalat’s footprint – particularly in markets such as Morocco and Pakistan – also weighed on the group’s bottom line, with direct cost of sales rising by 6 per cent to Dh11.6bn for the full year.

jeverington@thenational.ae

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