Kuwait Projects Co sees profits soar

Holding company says first-quarter profits surge due to mobile sale

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By  Reuters Published  April 29, 2007

Kuwait Projects Co. a diversified holding company, said on Saturday its first-quarter net profit surged to a record on gains from selling a stake in Kuwait's second mobile
phone operator.

The firm said in a statement net profit jumped more than 25 times to 381.5 million dinars in the three months to March 31, compared with 15 million dinars in the same quarter a year ago.

It is the biggest-ever profit the firm has posted on a quarterly or even annual basis, according to Reuters data going back to 2002.

The earnings include unrealised profits of 2.6 million dinars, representing an increase in the value of its investments, the firm said.

The firm led a consortium which sold 51 percent of Kuwait mobile phone operator National Mobile Telecommunications Co. (Wataniya) to Qatar Telecommunications Co. (Qtel) for $3.72 billion in March.

KIPCO said in March it and a subsidiary would make 490.14 million dinars from the sale of 168.83 million shares in Wataniya.

The firm said strong performances by United Gulf Bank, Burgan Bank
and Gulf Insurance Company had also contributed to the profit surge.

All three firms, in which KIPCO is invested, have posted strong profit rises
in the first quarter.

KIPCO's total revenues rose more than 12 times to 466.9 million dinars in the first quarter, from 37.6 million dinars a year ago.

Earnings per share rose to 369.78 fils, compared with 14.54 fils in the same period a year earlier. There are 1,000 fils to the dinar.

Separately, a KIPCO spokesman declined to comment on a report by al-Qabas newspaper that the firm planned to increase its stake in Burgan Bank to more
than 45 percent from 34.9 percent.

Al-Qabas said KIPCO wanted to increase its stake ahead of plans by Burgan Bank to form an alliance with Switzerland's UBS or Britain's HSBC, without being more specific.

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