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Batelco announces $95.5m cash dividend

Manama, February 26, 2013

Batelco Group, Bahrain's leading communications solutions provider, has announced a cash dividend of BD36 million ($95.5 million) and a 10 per cent bonus share issue for last year.

This follows an annual general meeting and an extraordinary general meeting on proposed changes to memorandum and articles of association, held at the company's Hamala headquarters on Monday.

The total cash dividend represents a 60 per cent payout of last year's profit, reported our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.

It has a value of 25fils per share of which 15fils per share was already paid during the third quarter of last year, with the remaining 10fils to be paid next month. Under the bonus award, one extra share will be allocated for every 10 shares held.

"We are pleased to continue to return value to our shareholders, achieving growth and diversification of the group at all levels," said chairman Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, who presided over the meeting.

Last year, the company reported net profits of BD60.3 million, as a result of effective operational management and ongoing strong cash flow generation, "despite extremely competitive market conditions in Bahrain and across the Mena markets".

"We also ended the year with a solid balance sheet comprising net assets of BD520.2 million, low debt and cash and bank balances of BD95 million," Shaikh Hamad said.

Returns to shareholders year after year continue to surpass the industry average and that of peers, the chairman said.

This remains a priority alongside continued investment in network and brand expansion across the Mena region and globally. The group has distributed $1,184 million over the last seven years representing an average payout of 72 per cent.

On its 2013 outlook, the Bahraini telco giant sees the current year proving "transformative" with the telecoms major further "growing, diversifying and developing business and brands".

Batelco Group chief executive Shaikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa told the Gulf Daily News that the company was aiming to deliver innovation and value to up to 30 million customers by 2015, across multiple markets.

The regional telecommunications service provider, with operations across six countries, plans to do that "through competitive communications solutions, innovative business models, operational efficiency and excellence".

On growth and diversification strategy for this year, Shaikh Mohamed said a key focus area was timely completion of CWC Monaco & Islands acquisition which would give the company enhanced revenue streams, a global footprint and presence in some 17 markets in all.

"With the approval of our shareholders, we are moving towards closing this transaction by the end of the first quarter of this year," he said.

For the transaction, Batelco would raise $650 million financing via a bond issue at favourable pricing. A bridge facility has already been signed, he stated.

The company would also ensure timely and smooth integration and buildup of synergies within the enlarged group. For the home market, the operator said it would focus on retention of high value customers including data business growth, said Shaikh Mohamed.

The cost leadership programme targets up to BD20 million savings post-2014. The group would also pursue further growth via acquisition of established operators, he stated.

Giving earnings guidance for the current year, Shaikh Mohamed said revenues, Ebitda and profits are expected to remain under competitive pressure in key operational markets.

Revenue is likely to see mid-single digit decline; Ebitda, a ten-digit decline and net profit, double digit decline, all in percentage terms, he observed.

The capital expenditure to revenue ratio is seen at approximately 14 per cent, with free cash flow of more than $80 million, he added.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Telecom | Batelco | cash |

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