Qatari telco ooredoo Q4 profit rises 14.6%

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Qatar Telecom reported a 14.6 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on Sunday as higher revenue in its home market, Indonesia and Iraq offset declining earnings from Kuwaiti unit Wataniya and Oman's Nawras .

The former monopoly, which renamed itself ooredoo last week, made a net profit of QAR523m (US$143.7m) in the three months to December 31, up from QAR456m in the year-earlier period, it said in an emailed statement.

Two analysts polled by Reuters had forecast ooredoo would make a quarterly profit of between QAR761m and QAR1.02bn.

Ooredoo, which operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said it would pay a cash dividend of QAR5 per share.

Full-year domestic revenue rose 9 percent to exceed QAR6bn, ooredoo said, without stating a precise figure, while revenue from Indonesia unit Indosat increased 3 percent to QAR8.8bn.

Full-year group revenue reached QAR33.7bn, up 6.2 percent from 2011.

Ooredoo has spent about US$3.9bn in the past 12 months upping its stakes in some foreign units, taking majority control of Iraq's Asiacell, while it now owns 90 percent or more of Kuwait's Wataniya, through which it holds controlling stakes in operators in Tunisia and Algeria.

Asiacell's full-year revenue rose 15.9 percent to QAR6.9bn from a year earlier.

Wataniya, Kuwait's number two operator, reported a 26.5 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit last month that it blamed on tougher competition at home and foreign exchange losses in Tunisia and Algeria.

In January, Omani subsidiary Nawras posted a fourth straight decline in quarterly profit as falling revenue from texts and on-network calls weighed on its bottom line.

Last week, Qatar Telecom rebranded itself as ooredoo, which means "I want" in Arabic, saying all its majority-owned units would come under the new name within two years.

It is also jostling with Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates and KT Corp, Korea's second-biggest telco, to buy Vivendi's 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom.

Ooredoo made an annual net profit of 2.94 billion riyals in 2012, up from QAR2.61bn in 2011.

Fourth-quarter revenue was 8.71 billion riyals. This compares with QAR8.19bn a year ago.

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