Qtel profit jumps 60%

UPDATE 2: State-controlled telecom sees Q2 earnings increase to $179.9mn, above forecasts by analysts.

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By  Thomas Atkins Published  September 14, 2008

Qatar Telecommunications Co (Qtel) moved closer to buying a majority stake in Indonesia's PT Indosat and reported a 59 percent leap in profit but shares tanked on Sunday in a broad market rout.

Qtel said Indonesia's supreme court had issued a ruling allowing it to keep the 41 percent stake in Indonesia's second-largest mobile phone firm it purchased in June, and that it would launch a tender offer for outstanding shares, a process that still awaits regulatory approval.

State-controlled Qtel has expanded rapidly outside its home country into Kuwait, Iraq, Algeria and Oman and is said to be considering a bid for Iran's third mobile provider as it aims to join the world's top 20 telecoms firms by 2020.

The expansion-hungry group posted second-quarter net profit of 654.5 million riyals ($179.9 million), better than expected, on a 78 percent rise in revenue to 4.564 billion riyals. Analysts polled by newswire Reuters had on average expected profit of 540 million riyals.

But investors dumped Qtel shares amid broad selling that saw regional indexes plummet, closing 7.5 percent lower.

"It's the current environment in the stock market, it has nothing to do with the company's results," said one analyst, who declined to be named.

Qtel said it aimed to build Indosat into the country's largest telecoms provider. "We will be allocating resources to ensure this happens sooner rather than later," the company said in a statement.

Qtel said it had consolidated Indosat's results from June and that it would consolidate Indosat's full quarterly results starting in the third quarter, which would provide a significant increase in revenue.

The group has grown quickly in the Middle East and North Africa, where population growth is strong and economies have expanded on the back of high energy prices. It aims to join the world's top 20 providers by the year 2020. (Reuters)

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