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Mon 16 Feb 2015 02:40 PM

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Bahrain's Batelco posts 22% rise in Q4 net profit

Former telecoms monopoly says it made net profit of more than $22m in three months to Dec 31

Bahrain's Batelco posts 22% rise in Q4 net profit
Batelco chairman Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa. (For illustrative purposes only)

Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) reported a 22 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit on Monday, upping its annual dividend thanks to cost cuts and a boost to the bottom line at its domestic and some foreign operations.

The former monopoly, which operates in 14 territories, has now posted rising profits in four of the six quarters since its $570 million acquisition of the islands division of Cable & Wireless.

Before that deal, its biggest ever, Batelco's profit fell in 16 of 17 quarters to the three months ending June 30, 2013.

Batelco made a net profit of 8.4 million dinars ($22.28 million) in final three months of 2014, up from 6.9 million dinars a year earlier, Reuters calculated based on a company financial statement published on Monday.

SICO Bahrain forecast that Batelco would post quarterly profit of 15.3 million dinars.

Batelco's fourth-quarter revenue was 97.8 million dinars, down from 99.4 million dinars a year ago, Reuters calculated.

Domestically, Batelco competes with units of Kuwait's Zain and Saudi Telecom as well as about 10 internet providers.

Such fierce competition on an island of about 1.3 million people prompted the state-backed operator to expand abroad, completing the Cable & Wireless deal in April 2013, though some parts of its original proposal subsequently fell foul of regulators.

The company also owns Jordanian telecoms operator Umniah, plus minority stakes in Yemeni mobile operatorSabafon and companies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Batelco's 2014 annual profit rose 13 percent year on year to 49.3 million dinars, it said in the statement.

It recommended a dividend of 25 fils per share for 2014, up from 19 fils in 2013, according to Reuters calculations.

Annual domestic profit rose 6.4 percent to 37.8 million dinars despite falling income, while profits at its Jordan andMaldives units jumped 41 and 47 percent respectively.

Batelco attributed the annual increase to cost cutting across its operations, particularly in Bahrain, though it warned that "revenues continues to be affected by fierce competition across the group, mainly in voice services".

Batelco's 2014 revenue rose 5 percent to 389.7 million dinars, with operations outside Bahrain providing 58 percent of the total.

The group's subscriber base rose 6 percent year-on-year to about 9.5 million.

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