Etisalat's first-half profit climbs 3% despite revenue fall

Chairman says telco 'managed to adapt, respond and demonstrate resilience' as it continued delivering services during pandemic

Emirates Investment Authority, the UAE's federal sovereign wealth fund, owns a 60 per cent stake in Etisalat, which has operations in 14 countries. Courtesy Etisalat
Emirates Investment Authority, the UAE's federal sovereign wealth fund, owns a 60 per cent stake in Etisalat, which has operations in 14 countries. Courtesy Etisalat

Etisalat chairman Obaid Al Tayer praised the company's resilience in the first half of 2020 as it posted a 3 per cent profit increase despite a decline in revenue.

The UAE's biggest telecoms company said consolidated net profit after a federal royalty payment rose to Dh4.6 billion, despite revenue edging 1 per cent lower to Dh25.6bn.

“Etisalat Group has delivered a good performance in the first half of 2020 considering the circumstances," said Mr Al Tayer, who is also UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs.

"The world is voyaging through uncharted waters and Covid-19 has affected all industries, including the telecom sector.

"Etisalat managed to adapt, respond and demonstrate resilience as we ensured the delivery of uninterrupted services to our customers, and had the privilege of supporting our society through various initiatives."

Etisalat, which has more than 148 million subscribers in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, introduced initiatives to support directives for residents to stay at home during the pandemic lockdown.

The company, in which the UAE's federal sovereign wealth fund Emirates Investment Authority owns a 60 per cent stake, offered free internet services to families to encourage distance learning.

It offered free browsing to more than 800 websites on education, health and safety to more than 10 million mobile subscribers, the company said.

In the three months to June 30, the company's net profit after federal royalty increased by 7 per cent to Dh2.4bn.

Capital expenditure on its network also increased by 6 per cent in the quarter, to Dh1.5bn, but was 14 per cent lower over the half year at Dh2.4bn.

The company’s infrastructure has handled a “surge in requirements” and is ready for more increases in digital adoption among its customers, Mr Al Tayer said.

Aggregate subscribers at the end of the second quarter were up 2 per cent on the same period last year, to 146 million, but had fallen 3 per cent from 150 million at the end of the first quarter.

UAE subscriber numbers fell to 11.8 million, 5 per cent lower year on year and 7 per cent lower than the previous quarter.

Fewer prepaid mobile users were signed up during movement restrictions when shops were closed.

Updated: July 21, 2020 11:59 PM

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