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Fri 15 Feb 2013 10:07 AM

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Kuwait's Zain sees Q4 net profit slump

Gulf state's No 1 telecom operator blames foreign exchange losses for 32% drop

Kuwait's Zain sees Q4 net profit slump
GCC telecoms

Zain, Kuwait's No.1 telecom operator, has said foreign exchange losses were to blame for a 32 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit.

The former monopoly, which operates in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa including Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, made a net profit of KD50.47m ($179.04m) in the three months to December 31, down from KD74.6m in the year-earlier period.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast a quarterly profit of KD63.7m.

Zain proposed a dividend of 0.05 dinars per share for 2012.

"Last year was difficult for Zain group due to sharp fluctuations in currency rates," Zain said in a statement, adding these fluctuations led to losses of $109m.

Although Zain did not specify the origin of its foreign exchange losses, these were likely to have come largely from Sudan, where the pound was devalued by 40 percent in July and fell to a near-record low in late January.

Sudan is one of Zain's key markets, accounting for 30 percent of the group's 41.3 million subscribers and 20 percent of revenue in the nine-months to September 30, the most recently available figures.

Zain group chief executive Scott Gegenheimer, who was appointed in December, said the company faced a number of challenges in Sudan, including fluctuating currency rates and the pound's low value.

Full-year profit for 2012 was KD252.1m, down from KD284.9m in 2011.

In Kuwait, Zain competes with Wataniya, a unit of Qatar Telecom (Qtel), and Viva, an affiliate of Saudi Telecom Co.

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