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Thu 12 Feb 2009 10:21 AM

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Kuwait's Wataniya posts 33% lower Q4 net profit

UPDATE 1: Nat'l Mobile Telecommunications earns higher net income in 2008.

Kuwait's National Mobile Telecommunications Co (Wataniya) posted a 33.6-percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, sending its shares down as much as 6.2 percent.

Wataniya, a unit of Qatar Telecommunications Co, posted profit in the three-month period of 14.2 million dinars compared with 21.39 million dinars in the year-earlier period, Reuters calculated based on full-year data provided by the firm.

Full-year net profit gained slightly to 82.4 million dinars ($281.2 million), or 164 fils per share, compared with 80.7 million dinars, or 161 fils per share, in 2007, Kuwait's second mobile phone firm said in a statement on the bourse website.

There are 1,000 fils to the dinar.

Wataniya - which operates in markets including Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives - did not explain the reasons behind the profit decline. Its shares bucked an uptrend on Kuwait's index KWSE, falling 4.94 percent as of 11.33pm, UAE time.

Telecom competition in Kuwait intensified last year as Wataniya and incumbent Mobile Telecommunications Co (Zain) faced new competition from VIVA, an affiliate of Saudi Telecom. VIVA started operations in November.

Two analysts in a Reuters survey in December said they expected Wataniya's profit to climb 12.2 percent and 16.4 percent.

The firm proposed a cash dividend of 50 fils per share for 2008, in line with its dividend a year earlier, but refrained from offering bonus shares. In 2007, it had offered investors one free share for every 10 they held.

Wataniya's total assets rose to 901.12 million dinars in 2008 up from 754.8 million dinars in 2007, while shareholder equity came in at 370 million dinars compared with 305.59 million dinars in the previous year. (Reuters)

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