Posts filed under ‘Middle East’
Vodafone Qatar’s CEO Grahame Maher has told the Gulf Times that the start-up is still awaiting approval from the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA) for an initial public offering (IPO), a pre-requisite for launching services in the country. Vodafone Qatar plans to launch GSM-based mobile services for 1,000 trial users on 1 March, but has not agreed a firm date for an IPO of 40% of its shares, which it previously said should go ahead sometime this month. Maher also told the paper that he was confident that outstanding issues with the state’s current sole operator Qatar Telecom (Qtel), including interconnection charges, would be resolved by the start of March.
UAE-based operator Etisalat has signed an agreement to sell Apple’s iPhone 3G mobile phone in the United Arab Emirates from later this month. The operator will simultaneously launch the device in Saudi Arabia through its operator there, Mobily. The iPhone 3G, available in 8GB and 16GB models, is already available in some countries in the Middle East, through agreements with Vodafone and Orange affiliates.
According to the Jordan Times, Jordan Telecom Group (JTG) grew its customer base to 2.52 million subscribers at the end of 2008, up 3.4% year-on-year. The company said the rise was mainly driven by growth from its Orange internet subscriber base, which reported 55.6% subscriber growth to 102,200. The Orange mobile customer base rose by 2.6% to 1.76 million, while the number of fixed line subscribers was up 0.5% to 663,400. The group’s net profit increased 6.1% to JOD100.3 million (USD142.7 million), while EBITDA was up 5.5% to JOD183.2 million. Revenues edged up 0.9% to JOD401.4 million, while JTG’s operating expenses before depreciation and amortisation declined by 2.7% to JOD218.2 million. Capital expenditure in 2008 amounted to JOD55.8 million, 6.7% lower than the JOD59.8 million in 2007.
The board of Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has decided to delist the company’s shares from the Bahrain Stock Exchange (BSE) on 26 February 2009, according to a press release. The Qatari group said it took the decision because of consistently low volume trading of its shares on the BSE and the incremental administrative requirements inherent in the group’s multiple share listings, necessitated by its recent international expansion. Qtel does not anticipate that the delisting will adversely affect the liquidity of the stock, its shareholders or other investors. Qtel listed on the Doha Securities Market in 1998, the BSE in 2001, the Abu Dhabi Securities Market in 2002, and also has a global depositary receipt (GDR) listing on the London bourse (since 1999). Its 51%-owned subsidiary Wataniya Telecom is listed on the Kuwait stock market, whilst the group is currently attempting to take majority control of Indonesian operator Indosat.
In related news, Qtel is reportedly preparing to sell further shares to finance its continuing international acquisition strategy, after ruling out increasing its debt pile to fund new purchases of licences or operators. Qtel initially relied on debt financing to fund its expansion into 17 countries, and by the end of September 2008 its consolidated debt was over QAR29 billion (USD8 billion), compared with around QAR1 billion at the end of 2006. The Qatari government participated in Qtel’s QAR5.86 billion (USD1.6 billion) rights issue in June 2008 to help fund further acquisitions. In 1998 45% of the company’s equity was sold to the public and government-related agencies. No single entity (other than the state) may own over 10% of Qtel’s capital (with telecoms firms limited to 5%).
United Arab Emirates telco Etisalat has announced its consolidated annual net profit rose by 18.7% to AED8.7 billion (USD2.36 billion) during 2008 when compared to its 2007 net income of AED7.3 billion. Mohammed Khalfan Al Qamzi, CEO of Etisalat, said the improvement was due to an increase in subscribers at home and abroad; at the end of 2008, the company’s wireless subscriber base in the UAE increased to 7.3 million, a rise of 14% compared to the end of 2007, fixed line subscribers rose by 3% to 1.36 million and internet subscribers grew by 31% to 1.15 million. The company also reported its 2008 net revenues increased by 22% to AED26.1 billion when compared with the previous year. Chairman Mohammed Hassan Omran said ‘Acquiring new licences in Iran and India provides us with significant growth opportunities, and will support the development of our company for many years to come.’ Etisalat said it plans to invest USD1 billion in its first year of operations in Iran, after winning the country’s third mobile telephone licence in January.
However, while net profit increased when compared to the previous year, Reuters reported the telco’s fourth quarter net profit fell by 19.3% year-on-year to AED1.42 billion. Reuters calculated the quarterly data from previous financial statements, as Etisalat’s preliminary annual report did not provide quarterly breakdowns.
Mobily (Etihad Etisalat), Saudi Arabia’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, reported a 51% increase in net profit year-on-year for the fourth quarter of 2008. Net profit for the three months to 31 December 2008 was SAR778 million (USD207.5 million), while net profit for the full year was SAR2.09 billion, up from SAR1.38 billion in 2007, on the back of ‘a rise in the number of subscribers, minutes of communications and an increase in demand for broadband services,’ it said. Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) has a 26.25% stake in Mobily.
Mobile start-up Vodafone Qatar has confirmed that it will choose 1,000 people to trial its new GSM network when it is switched on at the beginning of March, reports The Peninsula. The company will conduct a two-month ‘beta trial’, to garner feedback from volunteers ahead of a full commercial launch later in the year. ‘We want a wide sample as possible, reflective of the rich diverse society in Qatar, different ages, men and women,’ a company spokeswoman said.