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Batelco Group's profits down 7.8% in Q1

Subscriber base down by almost 30% following sale of Indian joint venture

Batelco Group's profits down 7.8% in Q1
Batelco's customer base declined following the sale of Indian joint venture STel.

Bahrain's Batelco Group remained under pressure in Q1 with its net profits dropping by 7.8% to BD16.1 million ($42.7m) in the first quarter of 2012, compared to BD17.46 million in the same period last year. The operator's gross revenues also declined slightly, falling by almost 4% to BD78.0 million ($206.9m).

The telco also saw a sudden decline in its customer base, owing to the sale of its Indian joint venture, STel, earlier in the year. Batelco said that its total customer base was 6.9m in Q1, a fall of 29.6% compared to the same period last year.

The telco posted EBITDA of BD28.3 million ($75.1m) representing a 36% margin.

Batelco said that it had low debt and significant cash and bank balances of BD61.8m ($163.9m). While this reflects a decline of 6% when compared to the same period last year, it takes into account the impact of a one-off payment made in January 2012 for the acquisition of a 3G licence for Umniah, the group's majority owned Jordanian subsidiary.

Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, chairman, Batelco, said: "During the first quarter of 2012, we continued to focus our efforts on maximising the performance of our investments overseas whilst maintaining market leadership in the Kingdom of Bahrain. In line with the guidance that we provided at the outset of the year, our results for the quarter reflected the continued impact of significant competition in Bahrain and in the highly competitive environments across the MENA markets in which we operate."

Shaikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa, group CEO, Batelco, added that the company had "done a great job" retaining mobile, broadband and enterprise customers in Bahrain.

"It is also a priority to further build our subscriber base overseas. With the sale of STel which was announced in February 2012, the group's adjusted subscriber base now stands at some 6.9 million users across six markets. We are focused on ensuring that our operations in each of these markets remain as competitive as possible whilst also working to identify new ways to grow and add customers - both organically and through acquisitions - in existing territories and in others that present a compelling opportunity," he said.

Batelco faces tough competition in Bahrain, where it competes with Zain and Viva, as well as numerous other operators including ISPs.

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