Wataniya set for August 1 launch in the Maldives

When the Maldives new entrant is launched, it will be pitted against incumbent operator Dhiraagu, which had approximately 134,000 subscribers at the end of March

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  July 19, 2005

Wataniya International CEO Ahmad Haleem has confirmed that his company is on track to launch operations commercially in the Maldives on August 1. The GSM900 licence is held 100% by Wataniya International, which has pledged to invest US$40 million in network development to offer island-wide GSM coverage. When the Maldives new entrant is launched, it will be pitted against incumbent operator Dhiraagu, which had approximately 134,000 subscribers at the end of March, representing a mobile penetration rate of around 38%. “We are on track to launch our services in the Maldives shortly, and we will continue to seek out potential telecommunications related opportunities that add value to the group,” commented Faisal Al-Ayyar, chairman of Wataniya Telecom. Haleem’s comments came as Wataniya Telecom announced consolidated net profit of KD25.6 million (US$87.2 million) from its ongoing operations for the quarter to end-June. This represents a 22% improvement on the net profit figure a year ago, with revenues for the first six months of the year amounting to KD157 million, up 48% year on year. The operator counted a total of 3.92 million subscribers across its investments in Kuwait, Tunisia Iraq and Algeria, and 2.48 million subscribers on a proportional basis. The operation in Kuwait reported 906,000 active subscribers at the end of June, with revenues of KD37.7 million during the quarter. EBITDA amounted to KD17.3 million while net profit for the quarter amounted to KD14.5 million, up 31% year on year. Tunisiana, the operator based in Tunis in which Wataniya holds a 50% stake recorded a subscriber base of 1.56 million at the end of June and revenues equivalent of KD22.4 million. Net attributable profit to Wataniya from Tunisiana amounted to KD1.2 million in 2Q. Asia-Cell in Iraq, in which Wataniya holds a 40% stake, reported 754,000 subscribers at the end of June, representing a growth rate of 20% quarter on quarter. Revenues for the quarter amounted to the equivalent of KD13.3 million, while the net attributable profit to Wataniya Telecom for the period amounted to KD0.2million. Wataniya’s operation in Algeria, Nedjma, recorded revenues equivalent to KD10.6 million in 2Q and counted more than 694,000 subscribers at the end of the period. Wataniya holds a 71% stake in Nedjma and recorded a net attributable loss of KD2.7 million in relation to its operations in Algeria for the quarter.

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