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Bahrain’s Batelco Q4 Net Profit Rises 22%

Bahrain’s Batelco Q4 Net Profit Rises 22%

The former monopoly has now posted rising profits in four of the past six quarters.

Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) reported a 22 per cent increase in fourth-quarter profit on Monday, upping its annual dividend thanks to cost cuts and a boost to the bottom line at its domestic and some foreign operations.

The former monopoly, which operates in 14 territories, has now posted rising profits in four of the six quarters since its $570 million acquisition of the islands division of Cable & Wireless.

Before that deal, its biggest ever, Batelco’s profit fell in 16 of 17 quarters to the three months ending June 30, 2013.

Batelco made a net profit of BD8.4 million ($22.28 million) in final three months of 2014, up from BD6.9 million a year earlier, Reuters calculated based on a company financial statement published on Monday.

SICO Bahrain forecast that Batelco would post quarterly profit of BD15.3 million.

Batelco’s fourth-quarter revenue was BD97.8 million, down from BD99.4 million a year ago, Reuters calculated.

Domestically, Batelco competes with units of Kuwait’s Zain and Saudi Telecom as well as about 10 internet providers.

Such fierce competition on an island of about 1.3 million people prompted the state-backed operator to expand abroad, completing the Cable & Wireless deal in April 2013, though some parts of its original proposal subsequently fell foul of regulators.

The company also owns Jordanian telecoms operator Umniah, plus minority stakes in Yemeni mobile operator Sabafon and companies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Batelco’s 2014 annual profit rose 13 per cent year on year to BD49.3 million, it said in the statement.

It recommended a dividend of 25 fils per share for 2014, up from 19 fils in 2013, according to Reuters calculations.

Annual domestic profit rose 6.4 per cent to BD37.8 million despite falling income, while profits at its Jordan and Maldives units jumped 41 and 47 per cent respectively.

Batelco attributed the annual increase to cost cutting across its operations, particularly in Bahrain, though it warned that “revenues continues to be affected by fierce competition across the group, mainly in voice services”.

Batelco’s 2014 revenue rose five per cent to BD389.7 million, with operations outside Bahrain providing 58 per cent of the total.

The group’s subscriber base rose six per cent year-on-year to about 9.5 million.

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