Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has posted consolidated group net profit of QAR604.4 million (USD166.2 million) for the first quarter of 2009, up 15% year-on-year, on total revenues that rose 58% from QAR3.5 billion in 1Q 2008 to QAR5.6 billion a year later. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the three months ended 31 March 2009 rose by 49% year-on-year to QAR2.7 billion, and the Doha-based company attributed the improvement to its diversified global growth strategy, the rapid expansion of subsidiary operations in several developing markets, and recent new product launches. A recent addition to the Qtel group, Indonesian operator Indosat, increased its mobile user base 26.1% y-o-y to 33.3 million and earned first quarter revenues of QAR1.4 billion, equivalent to the combined 1Q turnover of Kuwait-based subsidiary group Wataniya Telecom, which includes operations in Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives and Palestine. During the January-March period Wataniya maintained profitability, reporting EBITDA of QAR550.4 million (1Q 2008: QAR611.4 million) as its mobile customer base across six countries grew by 16% to 11.5 million. Asiacell in Iraq saw GSM subscribers increase from 4.1 million at end-March 2008 to 6.7 million at the close of 1Q 2009, with turnover of QAR878.5 million in the quarter, while Nawras (Oman) achieved cellular revenues of QAR362.7 million in the most recent quarter as customer numbers shot up 37.2% to 1.6 million.
In Qatar, Qtel’s total mobile and fixed network customer base reached 2.1 million in the first quarter of this year, up 24% on the same period last year, helping to drive domestic revenues up 18% to QAR1.5 billion and EBITDA up 9% to QAR898.7 million. The number of Qtel group customers worldwide stood at 55.9 million at the end of March.