Etisalat's Q3 profit climbs 6% as it adds more customers

The UAE's biggest telecom operator’s total subscriber base climbed 1% to 149 million

Etisalat's net profit rose to Dh2.4bn in the third quarter to September 30. Courtesy Etisalat
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Etisalat, the UAE’s biggest telecom operator, posted a 6 per cent year-on-year increase in third-quarter net profit, buoyed by growth in its subscriber base.

Net profit rose to Dh2.4 billion in three months ending September 30, the company said on Wednesday in a filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares trade.

Revenue during the period increased 0.5 per cent to Dh13bn, compared to a year earlier.

“Etisalat’s performance in the third quarter exemplifies resilience in these uncertain times and is a testament to the vital role the network played in our customers’ lives, enabling businesses and the society to easily transition to the new normal,” Hatem Dowidar, acting chief executive of the group, said.

“Etisalat will continue to capture new growth opportunities while remaining focused on addressing the increasing customers’ needs during the pandemic,” he added.

Etisalat, which had a monopoly in the UAE until the country's second telecoms operator du entered the market in 2007, said its aggregate subscriber base expanded 1 per cent to reach 149 million during the quarter.

Its subscriber base in the UAE grew to 12.1 million during the period.

Etisalat's UAE revenues during the third quarter decreased annually by 3 per cent since the commercial activities were still recovering from the pandemic.

“[The] mobile and fixed voice, outbound roaming, visitor roaming and handset sales declined … this was partially offset by growth in data, digital, wholesale and TV services,” the company said.

Etisalat's international revenues soared by 3 per cent year-on-year due to the strong performance of Etisalat Misr and improvement in its operations in Pakistan.

The company, which is majority owned by the government, said it is focused on adding more digital capabilities in the future.

“We will remain focused on our long-term goals while creating incremental business value … we will continue to digitally transform our business, focusing on innovation in our existing assets by building new capabilities that are digitally enabled and sustainable,” Mr Dowidar said.

In May, last year, it became the first service provider in the region to offer a 5G network, supporting smartphones for commercial use. Last month, it rolled out 5G services on fixed-line networks as well.

Operating expenses for the third quarter was Dh7.8bn, a yearly decrease of 1 per cent, due to Etisalat’s “agility to optimise cost structure during [the] Covid-19 pandemic resulting in lower staff costs, marketing, IT and consultancy expenses”.

Overall capital expenditure decreased by 17 per cent to Dh1.5bn during the period.

Etisalat said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were 2 per cent higher at Dh6.9bn.

The company said its net profit after federal royalty during the first nine months of this year rose 3.7 per cent to reach Dh7bn. Meanwhile, revenue rose marginally by 0.5 per cent to reach Dh38.6bn.