Kuwait's Zain first quarter net profit rises 15% to $155 million

Telco posted 56% increase in revenues

Zain served 50 million customers at the end of the first quarter, up 6 per cent from the previous year. AFP
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Zain Group, Kuwait’s biggest telecom provider, posted a 15 per cent year-on-year increase in first quarter net profit, as demand for its data services increased and the company attracted new customers in all seven of its markets.

Consolidated net profit increased to $155m (Dh558m) in the first three months of the year, the company said on Thursday. Revenue in the period surged 56 per cent to $1.33bn from the year earlier. Zain's first quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebidta) was $585m, up more than twofold from the previous year.

Ahmed Al Tahous, chairman of Zain Group, attributed the results to the implementation of the digital transformation strategy in the telco’s operations that has seen substantial investments in network upgrades, fiber optics and 5G readiness.

“We will continue driving cost optimisation initiatives to improve the efficiency of the operations and seek new lucrative opportunities in driving the business forward and increasing shareholder value,” said Mr Tahous.

Zain Group operates in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and South Sudan. In Lebanon, it manages mobile operator Touch on behalf of the government.

The telco said it served 50 million customers collectively in all markets, at the end of the period ending 31 March - posting a 6 per cent increase over the prior period.

The three-month period saw 55 per cent net income growth in Bahrain, strong data revenue growth of 9 per cent in Kuwait and the operator adding 1.5 million new customers in Iraq to reach 16 million.

The consolidation of Zain Saudi Arabia into Zain Group, which was started in the third quarter of last year, resulted in an additional $559m in revenue in the first quarter, the company said in a statement.

Revenue from internet data packages grew 118 per cent, representing 37 per cent of the telco’s total revenue.