Milestone as Mobinil hits 30 million clients

Mobinil phone subscribers are up to 30 million buoying its share price and outlook for 2011.

Powered by automated translation

A rise in the number of mobile subscribers for the Egyptian operator Mobinil has rung true with investors as its shares climb and it looks to capture a bigger chunk of the telecommunications market.

Hassan Kabbani, the Mobinil chief executive, told Bloomberg yesterday that subscriptions had reached 30 million. The company had 28.4 million subscribers at the end of September.

Mobinil, based in Cairo, was established in 1998 and attracted 157,000 users in its first year. Shares closed up 1.25 per cent to 165 Egyptian pounds on the Egyptian Stock Exchange yesterday.

It has been a close race with Mobinil's main rival Vodafone Egypt, which had 28.8 million subscribers at the end of September. At the time it beat Mobinil to the number one spot and was the biggest mobile phone operator in Egypt. It is not clear if Vodafone has kept pace with Mobinil since then.

The outlook for Mobinil is promising, said Abeer Adel, a senior financial analyst at Okaz Stockbrokers in Cairo.

"We expect Mobinil to invest a lot in its newly acquired internet provider, and to look for synergies and launch offers aiming at grabbing more market share," said Ms Adel.

Mobinil acquired LINKdotNET, an internet provider, in July and that is regarded as a "positive step" for the company, Ms Adel said.

She has a "buy" recommendation on the stock and a target price of 195.45 pounds.

Against the backdrop of a competitive telecomms sector, the company's attempt to diversify its portfolio and target the low market segments has paid off.

The number of pre-paid subscriptions, more popular with low-income users because of the option to "pay-as-you-go", rose 17 per cent to 26.49 million by the end of September.

But revenues for the first nine months of this year fell 2.4 per cent to 7.8 billion pounds compared with the same period last year.

Ms Adel also notes that the 30 million subscriber figure is misleading because it includes "non-active" users, or subscribers who have not used their mobiles for the last three months.