Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has reported a 2.7% rise in consolidated full-year group net profit to BHD104.2 million (USD276.4 million) for 2008, on net revenues that climbed 10.1% to USD666.8 million. The profit increase came despite an impairment provision of USD3.5 million relating to non-operating investments, a company statement said, whilst year-on-year growth in group expenses was curtailed during the year, from 30% reported in the first half to 10.7% by year-end. Earlier this month the telco completed its nationwide next generation network (NGN) project, the bulk of which was funded by domestic 2008 CAPEX of USD108.5 million. Batelco’s customer base in the Kingdom reached 767,000 mobile users, 205,000 fixed line customers and 82,000 broadband subscribers at end-December. Taking into account its operations in Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen, Batelco’s total mobile subscriber base increased by 22.8% year-on-year to 4.3 million at the end of 2008. The group has a presence in six Middle East countries, and foreign operations contributed 33% of gross revenues and 19% of EBITDA in the year under review, whilst all overseas units reported double-digit annual net profit growth. Earlier this week Batelco announced the USD225 million purchase of a 49% stake in Indian start-up mobile operator S Tel.