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Batelco cuts jobs after record profit

Bahraini telecom axing 87 jobs as part of major cost-cutting programme in face of domestic competition.

Bahraini telecom Batelco is cutting 87 jobs as part of a major cost-cutting programme aimed at offsetting slowing growth in its domestic market due to increased competition.

The job cuts come just a week after the operator announced record fourth-quarter profit of 101.5 million Bahraini dinars ($270.2 million), up 24.7% on the same period last year, and extra salary payouts and bonuses to staff.

"Though the group achieved a 25% increase in revenue last year, the growth in Bahrain was only 7%," Batelco Chief Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos said on Monday, quoted Bahrain's Gulf Daily News.

Kaliaropoulos said growth in Bahrain this year will only be around 3-4%.

Batelco has been under increasing pressure from Bahrain's telecoms watchdog to allow rival operators to use its infrastructure to boost competition.

The telecom faces competition from mobile operator MTC-Vodafone as well as numerous internet service providers (ISPs).

Kaliaropoulos said 40 of the 87 employees affected by the cuts have accepted redundancy packages, while the remaining 47 should do so within the next three months, according to the newspaper.

The cost-cutting programmes includes 70 initiatives, he said, without going into further detail.

"Our Bahrain operations will undergo a major transformation and any transformation is painful," he said.

Labour accounts for 47% of Batelco's total costs, he added. The telecom employs over 1,600 people.