Zain unveils ambitious growth targets
Telco plans to double net profits by 2014 following bumper 2010 results
Kuwait-based operator Zain Group plans to increase its net profits to $2.1 billion by 2014, up from $1.022 billion in 2010, and expand its customer base by 15 million to reach 52 million subscribers by 2014, according to the company's CEO, Nabeel Bin Salamah.
Bin Salamah said that Zain planned to expand organically, with a target of reaching $6.3 billion in revenue and EBITDA of $3.4 billion by 2014, while improving its EBITDA margin to 53%.
Bin Salamah revealed the targets as Zain released strong results for 2010.
The company, which remains a takeover target for UAE incumbent Etisalat, increased its subscriber base by 23% and saw its net income soar in 2010 on the back of the sale of most of its African assets to Bharti Airtel in June last year.
Zain's net profit for 2010, including the capital gain from the sale of its African assets, reached $3.675 billion, which was a record in the history of Kuwait's private sector.
Excluding the capital gain from the Africa assets sale, Zain's net income reached KWD293 million ($1.022 billion) for the year, representing a 50% increase on 2009 net income of KWD 195 million ($675 million).
Zain posted 23% customer growth across all of its Middle East markets and finished 2010 with a customer base of 37.24 million customers. The company added seven million new active customers in 2010.
Asaad Al-Banwan, chairman of the board of directors, Zain Group, described 2010 as being a "crucial and record year for the company".
"It  witnessed a series of decisions that led to the sale of the group's 15 African mobile operations, reaping the fruits of the group's investments on the continent and accomplishing the desired results of Zain's successful expansion strategy embarked on back in 2003," he said.
Nabeel Bin Salamah added: "Zain is the largest operator in the region with over 37 million customers and a market leader by customers in five of its seven Middle East operations.
"With a healthy cash balance and reduced debt levels, the company is now well-positioned to focus on, further invest in and grow its profitable Middle East operations."