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Wed 25 Apr 2012 07:48 PM

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Kuwait's Wataniya sees 90% Q1 profit drop

Telecoms operator increases subscriber base by nearly 9% to 18.1 million

Kuwait's Wataniya sees 90% Q1 profit drop

Kuwait telecoms operator Wataniya on Wednesday reported a 90 percent drop in first-quarter net profit, with earnings from the prior-year period boosted by a one-off fair value gain.

The firm, majority-owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel), increased its subscriber base by 8.7 percent to 18.1 million and new customers at its Algeria and Tunisia units helped offset declining home revenue. The two operations account for 85 percent of total subscribers.

Wataniya, which is also active in Maldives, the Palestinian Territories and Saudi Arabia, made a profit of 28.3 million dinars ($102.1 million) in the three months to March 31.

This is down from 285.1 million dinars in the year-earlier period, which was swelled by a revaluation gain after Wataniya raised its stake in unit Tunisiana to 75 percent from 50 percent.

Quarterly revenue was 180.3 million dinars, up from 169.8 million dinars a year earlier.

The firm's home operations made a profit of 15.5 million dinars in the first quarter, down about 21 percent from a year earlier despite a 3.1 percent rise in its subscriber base. This implies competition with rival operators Zain and Viva, an affiliate of Saudi Telecom, has hurt margins.

Kuwait revenue was also down, falling 7.6 percent to 57.9 million dinars, while the Tunisia unit's revenue rose 10 percent to 49.1 million dinars.

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