Bahraini group Batelco has posted total revenues for the first nine months of 2013 of BHD271.2 million (USD719.4 million), up from BHD227.6 million in the same period of the previous year. Operating profit for January-September was BHD46.5 million versus BHD46.6 million in the corresponding period of 2012, while EBITDA jumped by 20% year-on-year to BHD88.1 million representing a 32% margin. In line with ongoing efforts to diversify revenues and maximise investments, the group noted an increased contribution from overseas markets thanks to the positive impact from the newly acquired Island portfolio from Cable & Wireless Communications. At the end of the nine-month period, 53% of revenues and 52% of EBITDA was attributable to the group’s operations outside of Bahrain. The consolidated subscriber base grew to 8.8 million customers across 14 markets at 30 September 2013, an increase of 3% quarter-on-quarter and 22% year-on-year. In 9M 2013 Batelco reported net profit of BHD36.7 million, 14% y-o-y lower than BHD42.6 million in 9M12, with profits impacted by a number of one-off expenses including those associated with the Islands acquisition.
In Bahrain, mobile subscribers increased by 29% year-on-year and by 4% from the previous quarter to reach 875,000 subscribers at the end of September 2013. Batelco recently upgraded its 4G LTE speed from 100Mbps to 150Mbps, and also extended its 4G LTE mobile internet to pre-paid customers. Fixed broadband subscribers remained ‘steady’ in line with a growing shift toward mobile broadband usage. Demand for fixed line services in Bahrain continued to decline in favour of mobile.
Across the group, mobile subscriber numbers grew to 8.3 million at end-September 2013, an increase of 22% year-over-year and 3% since end-June. Broadband customer numbers grew by 3% since last quarter. Fixed line subscribers rose by 39% year-on-year and remained steady quarter-on-quarter. In Jordan, Umniah’s mobile subscriber base grew 12% y-o-y to 2.7 million, up by 6% in one quarter, while it reported 27% fixed broadband growth q-o-q. Kuwaiti broadband unit Qualitynet reported 42,000 users, a gain of 7% y-o-y and ‘steady’ results since the last quarter. In the Channel Islands and Isle of Man consumer mobile and broadband businesses were supported by IPTV services, which showed a 30% rise in customer connections q-o-q, while preparations are underway to launch a 4G LTE network in 2014. Batelco’s South Atlantic & Diego Garcia unit reported 16% growth in enterprise revenue in 9M13; mobile performance was ‘stable’ in the Falklands with demand expected to increase in the next year with the ramp-up of oil related activity. Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu) in the Maldives grew both revenue and net profits by 6% and 32% respectively compared to the previous quarter; mobile data revenue increased by 15% and data customers grew by 21% in the reporting period. Maldives fixed broadband business also grew in revenue by 3% with launches of new high speed consumer ADSL and business ADSL packages. Joint venture Sabafon (Yemen) ended the nine-month period with 4.3 million users reflecting growth of 15% y-o-y and near-flat growth q-o-q, while Atheeb (Saudi Arabia), in which Batelco holds a 15% stake, reported a decline of 10% y-o-y in subscriber numbers and 6% since the last quarter.