By Andy Sambidge
Earnings up to nearly $20bn last year, boosted by revenues from investments made overseas
Telecom companies licensed in Saudi Arabia earned revenues of SR75 billion ($19.9bn) last year, an increase of 13 percent on 2009.
The Communication and Information Technology Commission said company revenues were boosted by the SR14.5 billion earned from their foreign investments in 2010.
This figure was up significantly compared to 2007 when just SR455m made up revenues from investments abroad.
Saudi Telecom is in the running to win Syria’s third mobile licence and will compete in an auction with Qatar Telecom.
Nearly three quarters of all revenues for Saudi telcos were for mobile phone services, while fixed phone services and data accounted for about 25 percent, the Commission said in a report by state news agency SPA.
The Commission said telco revenues had increased due to the "policies of privatisation, liberalization, and opening doors to competitions which had attracted huge investments in the telecommunications sector and the Saudi economy".
State-owned Saudi Telecom (STC) reported a 11 percent fall in first-quarter net profit due to bonus salaries ordered by King Abdullah, missing analysts' average estimates.
The firm made a net profit of $419.5 million in the three months to March 31, compared to 1.772 billion in the year-earlier period, it said on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia's Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), the country's second largest mobile phone operator, reported a 40 percent rise in its first-quarter net profit.
The wireless carrier made a net profit of $266 million in the three months to March 31.