Batelco posts modest rise in profit
Batelco's revenue growth outstrips profit growth as the Bahraini incumbent invests in expansion.
Batelco Group, Bahrain's incumbent telecom operator, posted its highest ever net profit of $278.3 million (BD105.0m) in 2009, although the figure represented only a modest increase on the BD104.2m (276.3 million) it announced in 2008.
The company's gross revenue for 2009 was $920.2 million (BD346.9m), representing a 9% growth compared with 2008, indicating that some of the company's ambitious expansion projects, including the acquisition of a 49% stake in India's STel early in 2009 and a $57 million investment in a next generation network in Bahrain, may have eroded further profit growth.
Peter Kaliaropoulos, group CEO, said that 2009 had been a "significant milestone" during which the company expanded into India with the acquisition of STel and also expanded its broadband presence in countries including KSA, Jordan, Kuwait and Yemen.
"Batelco's overseas operations contributed 31% of gross revenues and 22% of EBITDA. All our business operations delivered within business plan expectations in 2009," he said.
In Saudi Arabia, Batelco, in partnership with Atheeb Telecom, launched 4G wireless broadband services under the ‘GO' brand, using WiMAX technology. In Jordan, Batelco-owned Umniah gained a 27% market share of the mobile market with 1.650 million subscribers for GSM, as well as 9000 WiMAX customers and another 9000 ADSL subscribers, according to Kaliaropoulos.
He added that Bahrain remains "the most important market for Batelco" with 822,000 active mobile subscribers, 85,000 broadband customers and 200,000 fixed lines, as of the end of 2009.