Reuters – Etisalat, the Gulf’s No.2 telecom operator by market value, reported an 11% rise in first-quarter profit on Sunday as its revenue and subscriber base increased and capital expenditure and taxes declined.
The former monopoly, which operates in 15 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, made a net profit of AED 2bn ($544.5m) in the three months to 31 March, beating analysts’ forecasts for AED 1.8bn
Etisalat, which has agreed to buy Paris-listed Vivendi’s 53% stake in Maroc Telecom, generated quarterly revenue of AED 9.9bn, up from AED 9.6bn a year earlier.
The UAE remains Etisalat’s core market, providing AED 6.5bn of quarterly revenue, up 8% from a year earlier to account for almost two-thirds of the group total.
“We will continue to expand our service offering and geographic footprint in order to diversify our revenue base,” Ahmad Julfar, Etisalat Chief executive, said in the statement.
“Africa remains a strategic region for our business.”
First-quarter capital spending fell 14% to AED 900m.
The UAE government has introduced a new royalty – or tax – regime for Etisalat and its rival operator du.
This has eased the tax burden on Etisalat slightly, with the company paying an effective royalty rate of 48% on its first-quarter profit, down from 50% a year earlier.
Etisalat had 145 million subscribers as of March-end, up 3% from a year earlier.