By Martin Morris
Bahrain telco benefits from sales boost and valuation changes in available-for-sale investments.
Batelco (Bahrain Telecommunications) on Wednesday reported a 19.55 percent increase in quarterly net profit on higher revenues and a revaluation of investments.Net profit attributable to shareholders in the second quarter ended June 30 was 27.94 million Bahraini dinars ($74.11 million), up from 23.37 million a year earlier.
Revenues rose to 88.4 million dinars in the quarter from 84.9 million a year earlier.
The company also booked 4.7 million dinars in income from valuation changes in available-for-sale investments.
Earnings per share were 37.6 fils. The Board of Directors approved an interim cash dividend of 20 fils per share.Batelco Chairman Shaikh Hamad Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said: ''Batelco continues to grow in Bahrain, even though there are now 70 other operators licensed to compete in the local market. Batelco also continues to grow overseas and for the first time is establishing a presence outside of the Middle East region through its investment in Indian mobile operator S Tel Limited (S Tel).''
The Group’s 96% owned subsidiary in Jordan, Umniah, is on track for double digit earnings growth, buoyed by a 13% increase in the number of mobile subscribers, with a customer base now standing at 1,487,000.
Meanwhile, Yemen's Sabafon, in which the Group holds a 26.94% stake, has delivered 18% year-on-year growth in revenue with the mobile subscribers' base increasing by 29%, for a total customer base of 2,440,000.
''Our expectations to realise further growth are high due to our start-up operations in Saudi Arabia and more recently India. We anticipate a greater percentage (39%) of our revenues to come from our overseas ventures in the near future (2010),'' said group CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos.
''Whilst Batelco continues to grow it is also implementing a disciplined cost leadership programme and expects revenue growth to continue for the rest of 2009. The priority remains one of growing profitable market share in all overseas markets, and at the same time, maintaining market leadership in Bahrain,'' he added.
Batelco’s mobile customer base in Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen has reached 4.68 million. In Bahrain there are 82,000 customers registered to Batelco’s broadband services and the total number of telephone lines in operation is 201,500.
Kaliaropoulos noted that with the addition of the Batelco Group’s new operations in partnership with Etihad Atheeb in Saudi Arabia and S Tel in India, the broadband and mobile stats would rise significantly by the end of the year.
Etihad Atheeb, with a number of Batelco staff on board, is on target to begin the roll-out of wireless broadband, data solutions and voice services by the end of Q4 this year. Atheeb also had a successful listing in Saudi Arabia this year. Additionally, S Tel is scheduled to launch full services by Q4, 2009.