Counting the cost of a fatter Qatar

12 Nov 2007

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has reported its consolidated group financial results for the nine months ended 30 September 2007. Nine-month group revenues grew by 123.9% year-on-year to QAR6.90 billion (USD1.93 billion), consolidated net profit rose by 23.2% to QAR1.54 billion (QAR1.25 billion in 2006) and EBITDA grew by 82.5% year-on-year to QAR3.49 billion. Largely via the consolidation of the Kuwaiti Wataniya Telecom group in March 2007, the Qtel group’s total mobile subscriber base grew from 1.3 million in September 2006 to 14.2 million at end-September 2007. Also, during 3Q07, Qtel became a major shareholder in the Asiacell consortium which recently won a 15-year nationwide mobile licence in Iraq.

Qtel’s group net income in the three months ended 30 September 2007 was QAR412.2 million, down from QAR436.49 million in the year-earlier period. Financing costs at Qtel have surged after it borrowed around USD5 billion to pay for Wataniya and other acquisitions. ‘The additional financing…for Wataniya has had an impact on our results…We are looking at this as the investment phase,’ the company’s executive director for group communications Adel Al Mutawa said. Quarterly financing costs swelled to QAR310.1 million, compared with QAR3.2 million in 3Q06. Qtel raised a USD3 billion loan that closed this month to refinance debt taken for its USD3.72 billion takeover of Wataniya, or the National Mobile Telecommunications Company (NMTC) as it is also known. Wataniya posted a 27.2% drop in third-quarter net profit to around USD57 million, missing most forecasts.

Qtel’s domestic revenues grew by 17.6% from QAR2.76 billion in the first nine months of 2006 to QAR3.25 billion. The mobile customer base stood at 1.11 million at end-September 2007, up from 855,000 a year earlier, with wireless penetration in Qatar well over 100%. Qtel’s Nawras subsidiary in Oman recorded a mobile subscriber base of 897,000 as of 30 September, which it claimed gave it a 40% market share, and took revenues of QAR610 million in January-September 2007, up by 89.4% from QAR322 million in the same period of 2006. Wataniya Telecom reported a total customer base at the end of the third quarter of 8.2 million (‘proportionate customer base 5.4 million’), spread across Kuwait, Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria, the Maldives and Saudi Arabia, with turnover of QAR3.78 billion in the first nine months of 2007. The post-acquisition revenues of Wataniya group up to September 2007, included in Qtel group results, stood at QAR2.84 billion.

Kuwait, Qatar , Ooredoo Kuwait, Ooredoo Qatar

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