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SUBSCRIBER BASE HITS 9m

Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa

Batelco profits down 28pc to $115m

Manama, January 28, 2014

Batelco Group, a Bahrain-based telecom company, has reported net profits of BD43.6 million ($115.6 million) in 2013 as against BD60.3 million ($160 million) for the previous year, reflecting a decrease of 28 per cent year over year.

The results were positively boosted by its overseas operations, which includes the Island Portfolio acquired from CWC (Cable & Wireless Communications) in a deal finalised in April 2013, a company statement said.

Profits for the year were impacted by a number of one off expenses including those associated with the Islands Portfolio acquisition. EBITDA for the year was $320.2 million, representing a healthy margin of 33 per cent, versus EBITDA of $270 million and a margin of 33 per cent for 2012.

The increase in EBITDA was attributed to the positive impact of Batelco Group’s overseas operations and improved performance in the home market.  Similarly, EBITDA increased by 3 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2013.

The Group’s gross revenues stood at $983 million for the year versus $808.2 million in the previous year, an increase of 22 per cent year over year and a 1 per cent decrease since last quarter. In line with the Group’s continued diversification, 54 per cent of revenues and 50 per cent of EBITDA are now generated from markets outside of Bahrain where the Group continues to focus on strengthening its performance and reach.

The Group ended the year with a strong balance sheet and financial position. As of December 31, 2013, net assets were $1,573.2 million with substantial cash and bank balances of $526.8 million and net debt of $116.7 million.

The Group also reported that the Board of Directors would recommend to the Annual General Assembly of shareholders a full year cash dividend of S$84.1 million, at a value of 20 fils per share, of which 10 fils per share was already paid during the third quarter of 2013.

In addition, the Board of Directors will also recommend a 5 per cent bonus share issue, awarding one extra share for every 20 shares currently held by the company’s shareholders.

“2013 was marked by strong cash generation and growing customer numbers across the Group, mainly attributable to the inclusion of our new Island Portfolio businesses. Diversification has been central to our strategy for a number of years and we are very pleased to see our investments deliver in line with our expectations,” said Shaikh Hamad Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Batelco Group chairman.

“We have been continuing over the year with our restructuring and cost rationalisation programme, announced in 2012. We look forward to reaping the benefits of this exercise which will help us to further strengthen our performance and financial results as we go forward.”

Nonetheless, Batelco Group is very pleased with its purchase and as anticipated, the acquisition has had a very positive impact on the Group’s performance.

In the past 12 months, the total subscriber base has grown to 9 million across the 14 geographies of the expanded operation, representing 18 per cent growth year on year, according to the statement.

Mobile subscriber numbers grew 18 per cent year over year and 2 per cent quarter on quarter. This increase was supported by strong performance in Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen as well as across the new JVs.

Broadband customers for the year also increased by an impressive 26 per cent year over year and by 2 per cent since the third quarter with results supported by progress in Jordan.  Additionally, fixed line subscribers have risen by 39 per cent year over year, again boosted by the addition of the Island Portfolio.

For the year, contributions from operations outside of Bahrain increased both as a percentage of revenues and EBITDA. At year end 2013, 54 per cent of revenues and 50 per cent of EBITDA were sourced from overseas markets with overall performance enhanced by the Island Portfolio.

“Among our plans in 2014 is the roll out of superfast 4G LTE for four of our new operations, Dhiraagu and SURE Telecom in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man,” Shaikh Hamad continued.

“The executive search for a new Group CEO is ongoing and the Supervisory Committee of the Board of Directors, consisting of deputy chairman Murad Ali Murad, Executive Committee chairman Abdul Razak Al Qassim and director Waleed Alkhaja, continues to assume the role of the Group chief executive officer on a temporary basis until such time as the new CEO is appointed,” he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Batelco | CWC | 2013 profits |

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