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Tue 21 Oct 2008 11:54 PM

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Qatar Telecom boosts profit

Quarterly net profit up 58% to $179mn as customer base grows four-fold on overseas acquisitions.

Qatar Telecommunications Co (Qtel) posted a 57.9 percent surge in third-quarter profit as it reaped returns from its international operations and boosted its customer base.

Net profit attributable to shareholders in the three months ended Sept. 30 climbed to 651 million riyals ($178.9), compared with 412.20 million riyals a year ago, the company said in a statement.

Qtel's consolidated revenue for the third quarter was 6.16 billion riyals, compared with 2.89 billion riyals a year earlier, it said.

Qtel's customer base surged almost four-fold in the third quarter to 55.7 million, compared with 14.4 million a year ago, it said. "Having embarked on a... programme of growth over the past few years, we are now realising the benefits of the growth and the diversification of our operations," Chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Thani said in the statement.

Qtel's Kuwaiti unit National Mobile Telecommunications Co (Wataniya) made 4.83 billion riyals in the nine months ended Sept 30, it said without giving a comparative figure for last year.

Its Omani unit Nawras posted a nine-months revenue of 953 million riyals, compared with 610 million a year ago and clinching a market share of 46 percent as of Sept. 30.

Faced by intensifying competition in their home markets, Gulf Arab telecom firms have been expanding abroad, snapping up assets in Asia and Africa worth billions of dollars.

Gulf Arab telecom firms Emirates Telecommunications Corp and Saudi Etihad Etisalat have posted 19 percent and 73.3 percent rises in profit respectively.

Qtel, which also has operations in Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives, said in June it would buy a $1.35 billion stake in Indosat , Indonesia's second-biggest mobile telephone firm.

It said in May it was looking at GSM opportunities in India and considering a bid for Iran's third mobile provider.

Reuters earlier calculated the company's third-quarter profit as 620 million riyals based on figures posted on the stock exchange website and earlier financial reports.

Qtel's third-quarter profit was in the middle range of two analysts' forecasts of 683.60 million riyals and 529.71 million riyals in a survey by newswire Reuters.

Qtel shares, down about 30 percent this year, closed 2.75 percent higher on Tuesday at 133.90 riyals. (Reuters)

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