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Wed 22 Feb 2012 07:12 PM

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Batelco eyes double digit profit growth in 2012

Bahrain telco says performance will be boosted by sale of stake in Indian affiliate S Tel

Batelco eyes double digit profit growth in 2012
Batelco has invested more than $70m in a 3G licence in Jordan

Bahrain Telecommunications Co's (Batelco) sale of its stake in Indian affiliate S Tel will help it achieve double-digit profit growth in 2012, the former monopoly said on Wednesday.

On February 8, Batelco announced it would it sell its 43-percent holding in S Tel for $175m to its Indian partner, the first exit by a foreign operator since an Indian court cancelled 122 telecoms licences last month amid a corruption probe.

Batelco will receive the same price it paid to acquire the S Tel stake in 2009, with the sale expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

Batelco said this would help offset falling revenue - it forecast "low single digit decline" in 2012 - due to intense competition in Bahrain from rival operators Viva, a unit of Saudi Telecom Co (STC) and Kuwait's Zain.

Batelco's domestic profit was BD67.8m ($180m) last year, down 21 percent from 2010, while profit at its Jordan unit Umniah rose 15 percent to BD13.6m over the same period.

Its other affiliates, which include Internet providers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and S Tel, swung to a combined profit of BD2.4m in 2011. This compares to a loss of BD7.2m a year earlier.

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