Kuwait’s Zain Group reports flat second quarter profit

Zain said that foreign currency conversions, mainly in Sudan, had cost the company $58m in H1 2017

Zain, Kuwait’s biggest telecom operator by subscribers, reported flat second-quarter profits on Sunday.

The former monopoly, which operates in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa, made a net profit of KD44m ($146m) in the three months to June 30, it said in a statement. That compared with a profit of KD44.7m in the year period last year.

EFG Hermes had forecast a net profit of KD39.87m, while SICO Bahrain forecast a net profit of KD36.75m.

Zain said in a statement that foreign currency conversions, mainly in Sudan, had cost the company $58m in the first six months of 2017.

Second-quarter revenue was KD261m, down from KD274.9m a year ago.

In Kuwait, Zain competes with Ooredoo Kuwait, a unit of Qatar’s Ooredoo, and Viva, an affiliate of Saudi Telecom Co (STC).

Zain is also trying to sell its transmitter towers in Saudi Arabia and Zain Saudi, 37 per cent-owned by Zain Group , said on Sunday it had entered into exclusive talks with a consortium led by IHS Holding Limited and Towershare Management Limited for the sale and lease back of its mobile towers.

The talks have been granted exclusivity until Sept. 28, though there is no binding agreement or certainty that negotiations will lead to a transaction and regulatory approval would be required for any deal, Zain Saudi said in a bourse statement.

Zain Saudi said in December it was in talks to sell the towers to a consortium comprised of TASC SAL and ACWA Holding.

Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said in November that the group expected the mobile towers in Saudi to sell for over $500m in the first half of 2017.

The company has been exploring the sale of its towers since as early as January 2015.