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Thu 1 Jan 2009 11:00 PM

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Etisalat predicted to post 30% rise in yearly profit

Research analysts expect telecom giant to report a 2008 net profit of $2.57bn.

UAE telecoms giant Etisalat is expected to report a 30 per cent rise in profit when it announces its 2008 full-year results later this month.The company is due to report a 2008 net profit of about 9.46 billion dirhams ($2.57 billion), according to the average estimates of six research analysts tracked by newswire Bloomberg.

Amid the global economic slowdown, 2008 profits are poised to dwarf those of the previous year when the company announced a 7.3 billion profit, reported UAE daily The National.

Etisalat earned a 1.8 billion windfall in mid-2008 from the mandatory sale of 20 per cent of its stake in Mobily, its Saudi Arabian network, to Saudi investors. It has expressed interest in becoming the majority owner of Mobily if the opportunity arises.

Half of Etisalat’s yearly profits are paid in royalties to the federal government, which owns 60 per cent of the publicly traded company. This year’s payment could equate to more than 10 per cent of the federal budget.

The company's international networks now account for almost 10 per cent of total revenues while its operation in Egypt, which was launched in mid-2007, has now become profitable. Operations in Saudi Arabia are also contributing to the bottom line.

But the UAE remains by far the company’s most significant market, continuing to grow despite a mobile penetration rate of almost 200 per cent, meaning that there are two mobile lines for every resident.

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