Zain Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Kuwait-based telco Zain Group, has published its consolidated financial results for the three months ended 31 March 2014, reporting a net loss of SAR318 million (USD84.79 million). Despite incurring a loss, the figure represents a 20.1% year-on-year improvement on the SAR398 million loss reported in the corresponding period of 2013. Zain Saudi mainly attributed the positive development to a ‘phenomenal 68% rise in data service revenues during the first quarter of 2014’. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the period under review also increased, by SAR93 million (or 45% year-on-year), to SAR300 million due to the company’s ‘transformation programme’, which focuses on cost optimisation in sales, distribution and marketing expenses.
In operational terms, Zain Saudi reported that its customer base increased by 10% to 8.7 million users in the twelve months to end-March 2014, with the majority of net additions signing up for an ‘internet service’; internet data traffic also increased, by 274% year-on-year. The number of network sites reached a total of 5,918 in 1Q14; Zain’s 2G footprint was extended to 93% of the population (compared to 91% in 1Q13), while 3G population coverage was reported at 84% (up from 80%). LTE networks were available to 51% of Saudi Arabia’s territory, compared to 46% at end-March 2013.