Zain Saudi says losses narrow during Q1

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Zain Saudi reported a first-quarter loss on Wednesday which narrowed from a year earlier and beat analyst forecasts as the telecom operator cut costs and data revenue surged.

Saudi Arabia's No.3 mobile company, 37-percent owned by Kuwait's Zain, made a net loss of SR318 million ($84.8 million) in the three months to March 31 versus a loss of SR398 million a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast a loss of SR400 million on average.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of SR300 million were up 45 percent.

The company attributed its improved performance to cost cutting in sales, distribution and marketing as well some changes to the depreciation of property and equipment.

In a separate emailed statement, Zain Saudi said mobile data revenue rose 68 percent in the first quarter but did not state its first-quarter revenue.

Zain Saudi has yet to make a quarterly profit since launching operations in 2008.

It made significant steps in easing its debt burden last year, in July extending a $2.3 billion Islamic loan facility at a lower profit rate.

It also agreed a deal with the government in June that would allow it to defer payment of licence-related fees, which could total around $1.49 billion over seven years, and appointed industry veteran Hassan Kabbani as chief executive in September.

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Zain - Saudi Arabia
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