Strong domestic performance keeps Etisalat profit rising

Etisalat group now has 172 million subscribers, up 4m from the end of December. Of that, the UAE contributes 11.4m subscribers, a quarter-over-quarter growth of 3 per cent.

Etisalat’s UAE operations contributed Dh7.2 billion in group revenue. Lee Hoagland / The National
Powered by automated translation

Etisalat reported a rise in its first-quarter profit despite a decline in revenue in Pakistan, Morocco and Egypt.

The telecoms provider said that net profit increased by 8 per cent to touch Dh2.2bn, year-on-year.

It reported a 30 per cent rise in revenue to Dh12.9 billion, even as earnings from Egypt contracted due to currency devaluation and fell in Pakistan and Morocco due to competition in the mobile segment.

The provider – which operates in 19 markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia – had a bumper final quarter last year, with a 47 per cent jump in net profit from a year earlier to touch Dh2.1bn.

Last May, Etisalat acquired a 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom for €4.14bn (Dh16.43bn). In the first quarter of this year, Etisalat sold six West African operations of its subsidiary Atlantique Telecom to Maroc Telecom. The Ivory Coast-based Atlantique Telecom was created in 2002.

The Etisalat group now has 173 million subscribers, up 4m from the end of December. Of that, the UAE contributes 11.4m subscribers, a quarter-over-quarter growth of 3 per cent. Maroc Telecom accounted for 51.6m subscribers.

“Etisalat’s unit in the UAE continued to do well, reflecting the strong performance of the UAE economy lately,” said Matthew Reed, a Dubai-based analyst with the London consultancy Ovum.

The acquisition of Maroc Telecom, expansion in Afghanistan and Nigeria as well as the UAE, helped to drive earnings growth.

UAE operations contributed Dh7.2bn in revenue, up 11 per cent year-on-year, and 3 per cent quarter-on-quarter, driven by data and voice packages in fixed and mobile segments.

International operations accounted for the remaining Dh5.6bn, up by 69 per cent year-on-year.

Maroc Telecom generated revenue of Dh2.9bn in the first quarter, declining by 0.7 per cent year-on-year due to increased competition in Morocco.

Etisalat stock was unchanged yesterday from last week’s close at Dh11.25. That is up from Dh10.45 a year ago. Etisalat’s network costs increased by 39 per cent to Dh700m, an increase of 8 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

“To make initiatives such as Smart Cities a reality requires innovation and investment,” said Ahmad Julphar, Etisalat’s group chief executive.

Dubai’s Vision for 2021 is to turn the emirate into a Smart City. As part of the project, the city’s government services and residents will be linked through smart devices accessed over high-speed wireless internet connection.

The Dubai-based du is expected to post results on April 28.

Etisalat is set to face increased competition from du with plans for the country to open up the market for home internet and landline services this year.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter