Etisalat, the Gulf’s No.2 telecom operator by market value, reported an 11 percent 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 Dhs2 billion ($544.5 million) in the three months to March 31, beating analysts’ forecasts for Dhs1.8 billion.
Etisalat, which has agreed to buy Paris-listed Vivendi’s 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, generated quarterly revenue of Dhs9.9 billion, up from Dhs9.6 billion a year earlier.
The UAE remains Etisalat’s core market, providing Dhs6.5 billion of quarterly revenue, up eight per cent 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 per cent to Dhs900 million.
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 per cent on its first-quarter profit, down from 50 per cent a year earlier.
Etisalat had 145 million subscribers as of March-end, up three per cent from a year earlier.