UAE's Etisalat Q4 profit up 17%, takes $769m hit

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Etisalat, the United Arab Emirate’s largest telecom operator, has recorded an increased net profit of US$232.6m during the 2012 fourth-quarter after writing down the value of businesses in Pakistan and Sudan by a total of US$769m.

Fourth-quarter profits rose 17 percent from US$191.6 during the same period in 2011, when the company wrote down US$827m in its Indian operation.

Across the year, the government-owned company posted a US$1.82bn profit, up 15 percent.

Revenue across the Etisalat Group, which has operations in 15 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, grew 2 percent to US$8.9bn in 2012.

UAE revenues declined 1 percent to US$6.2bn, which the company attributed to fewer voice calls, partially offset by an increase in internet and data usage.

Earnings from international operations grew by 11 percent to US$2.5bn during 2012, and now make up 29 percent of the group’s total consolidated revenues.

However, the company wrote down losses worth US$644m in its Pakistani investment, Pakistan Telecommunication Co Ltd (PTCL), the company’s third largest segment, and US$459m in Sudan fixed-lined operator Canar.

“Impairment losses were primarily driven by increased discount rates as a result of increases in inflation in the operating countries and challenging economic and political conditions, as well as by the downtrend in real estate prices combined with the negative local currency fluctuation,” the Abu Dhabi-based company said in its annual report.

The company had diversified its investments, focusing on high growth or high population markets, following declining profits in eight out of nine quarters up to the first quarter of 2012 on the back of UAE rival du entering the market in 2007.

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