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Wed 25 May 2011 06:45 PM

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Vodafone Qatar sees net loss narrow to $39.55m

Qatar's second operator's acting CEO says it will swing to an operating profit this financial year

Vodafone Qatar sees net loss narrow to $39.55m

Vodafone Qatar will swing to an operating profit this financial year while extending a ban on dividends, acting chief executive told analysts on Wednesday.

The telecoms operator, an affiliate of Vodafone Group , will likely see earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of around QR120 million ($32.98 million), John Tombleson told a conference call.

This compares with an EBITDA loss of QR27.1 million for the financial year that ended on March 31, 2011.

Revenues will rise to about QR1.1 billion this year, Tombleson said, from 935 million in the previous year.

Vodafone Qatar reported a fourth-quarter net loss of QR143.9 million on Wednesday, compared with a loss of QR156 million in the year-earlier period. It reported a full-year loss of QR601 million.

Two analysts polled by Reuters forecast a quarterly loss of between QR111 million and QR138.1 million.

Mobile penetration in Qatar - which has a population of 1.7 million - is about 169 percent, so winning high-value customers and population growth will be the firm's main growth drivers, Tombleson said.

"We are budgeting for 3 million people over the next eight years - more people will grow the pie," he said.

"There are three prerequisites for high value customers - one is post-paid, another is number portability and the most important is the quality of the network."

Vodafone plans to offer number portability by January 2012 and post-paid tariffs for individual customers by next April.

Vodafone Qatar previously said it would not pay a dividend before May 2013, Tombleson said, but this could be put back to 2014.

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