KUWAIT: Kuwaiti mobile telephone firm Zain, the Gulf Arab region’s third-largest operator by market value, posted a 96 percent rise in third-quarter net profit, boosted by a sharp increase in customer numbers.
"In this new era of focus on our Middle East operations, we are extremely pleased with the robust 25 percent customer growth and 8.4 percent revenue increase, both of which are in line with our targets for the period," Zain’s Chairman Asaad al-Banwan said in a statement on Wednesday.
In the third quarter Zain received $295.4 million from India’s Bharti Airtel, as part of the sale of its African assets.
Net income in the three months to Sept. 30 was 80.7 million dinars ($286 million), according to Reuters’ calculations. The firm did not provide quarterly figures, which Reuters calculated based on previous financial data.
The firm made a net profit of 41.19 million dinars in the third quarter last year.
"In the second and first quarters, they lost revenue shares in Kuwait and Sudan… the numbers (third quarter) are weaker than expected," said Sean Gardiner, a telecoms analyst at Morgan Stanley.
Net income in the nine months to Sept. 30 came in at 976 million dinars, Zain said in a statement on Wednesday.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected Zain’s third-quarter net profit to range between 61 million and 106 million dinars.
Zain Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s newest mobile phone operator, narrowed its net loss in the third quarter to its lowest level since it started operations two years ago as it doubled its revenues.
"This is quite an achievement for a mobile company that has been operating for just over two years and which is now the largest revenue earner in the Zain Group with $1.12 billion in revenues for the nine months to date," Zain’s Chief Executive Nabeel bin Salama said in the statement.
The firm’s nine-month consolidated revenues came in at $3.5 billion.
Zain’s customers reached 35.3 million at Sept. 30, a 25 percent increase from a year earlier.
Last month, Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) offered to buy 46 percent of the Kuwaiti telecom company at a price of 1.7 dinars per share, valuing the deal at just under $12 billion. The offer was made to one of Zain’s major shareholders, Kharafi Group.
The firm’s shares closed 3 percent up on Wednesday. The results were released after the market closed.