UAE telco Du posts strong full-year 2009 results
Du CEO Osman Sultan expects to go head-to-head with Etisalat on broadband within six months
All segments of UAE operator Du's business grew over the past 12 months, according to the telco's CEO, who said that he expects profit to continue to grow above the market average in 2010.
A buoyant Osman Sultan, Du CEO, said at a press conference today that revenue was up by 35% to AED5.3 billion (US$1.45 billion) in 2009, while net profit before royalty stood at AED528 million ($144 million), compared to AED8 million ($2.2 million) in 2008.
Du is still waiting to find out the size of the royalty payment it must make to the UAE government, and Sultan said until it is confirmed, Du would provision for a payment of a "conservative" 50% of net profit.
The total number of fixed lines increased by 45% year-on-year, with broadband the biggest contributor to the growth, up 37% year-on-year to 72,400 subscribers.
Broadband growth could be further boosted when an infrastructure sharing agreement with Etisalat is finalised, paving the way for residents of the UAE to choose broadband services from Etisalat or Du.
Du is currently involved in discussions with the incumbent about a sharing agreement, and Sultan said he expected Du's broadband services to be rolled out across the UAE and beyond the limited pockets of Dubai that it currently operates in later on this year.
Sultan said there is "political willingness to optimise the use of the investment already done".
"We have made significant progress, and we believe that we will be able to start progressively offering services outside of our territory in the second half of 2010, so we are talking in five or six months from now," he said.
Revenue growth in 2009 was mainly driven by the mobile segment, which Du attributed to its Elite tariffs, which are aimed at higher-spending customers, and its deal with Apple to stock the iPhone.
Du's mobile subscriber base grew by 337,900 during the last quarter of 2009, which meant it added a total of 1,011,200 over the course of the year, resulting in a total subscriber base of 3,477,000 - up 41% on 2008.
In contrast, rival telco Etisalat's subscriber base stood at 7.74 million lines in 2009, up 6% against 2008.