The UAE’s biggest telecoms operator e& reported a 3.6 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit underpinned by a growth in the number of subscribers.
Net profit attributable to the owners of the company for the three-month period ended March 31 rose to Dh2.4 billion ($653.3 million), compared with Dh2.3bn during the same period last year, the company said in a statement on Monday to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.
Revenue of the operator, formerly known as Etisalat, remained flat at more than Dh13.3bn during the period. Earnings per share rose to 0.28 cents.
"Our first-quarter results are a testament to the effectiveness with which we have begun the new chapter of our journey as a global technology and investment conglomerate that digitally empowers societies," Hatem Dowidar, group chief executive of e&, said.
The company’s total subscriber number reached 159 million at the end of first quarter, representing an increase of 2 per cent over the same period last year, the operator said.
“e& delivered strong financial performance across all key metrics, driven by higher demand for digital and data services and the group’s ability to leverage superior networks,” it added.
The telco, based in Abu Dhabi, was founded in 1976 and is the UAE's oldest telecoms company. It has operations in nearly 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, serving more than 156 million customers.
The company is also exploring the development of 6G, the next generation mobile network that will allow for much faster and more sophisticated technology use. It is conducting research and developing international standards that will be the main building blocks to create a 6G network, the company said in June.
In its future outlook, e& said it will explore new avenues of growth, expand its offerings, enhance the quality of its solutions, forge new partnerships and launch a number of digital initiatives to support small and medium businesses, governments and large enterprises.
“All of this stems from our clear vision to create a more progressive business model, represented by the group's business pillars, so that we can seize the opportunities that arise in an increasingly fast-paced digitalised business landscape,” Mr Dowidar said.
In February, e& rebranded as it sought to transform into a global technology investment conglomerate.
In January, it completed the acquisition of elGrocer, an online marketplace for groceries that operates across the Emirates.
The acquisition value will not exceed Dh38 million. That includes up to Dh30m for the elGrocer shares. Etisalat did not disclose the exact transaction amount.
The elGrocer transaction is one of the latest deals that e& has forged to boost its portfolio.
In August, Etisalat acquired an additional stake in Maroc Telecom Group, increasing its effective ownership from 48.4 per cent to 53 per cent.