Sistema reports fourth-quarter loss

30 Apr 2009

Russia’s Sistema group, which owns the country’s leading mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and wireline and broadband operator Comstar United TeleSystems, has reported net losses of USD713.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. The company said the results were hit by asset impairment charges of USD239.4 million and a USD794.8 million loss stemming from the depreciation of the rouble. Consolidated group revenues fell by 3.4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, down to USD4.02 billion. Approximately 70% of Sistema’s turnover comes from its telecoms investments.

Sistema posted consolidated revenues of USD16.7 billion for the full-year 2008, up 24% on the 2007 total of USD13.7 billion. OIBDA for the year rose 11.1% to USD5.5 billion with an OIBDA margin of 32.9%. However a poor fourth quarter saw full year net income fall 96% to USD62 million, compared to USD1.57 billion in 2007.

Comstar reported revenues of USD1.65 billion for full-year 2008, up from USD1.48 billion in the previous year. The Moscow-based telco saw annual OIBDA rise 17% to USD689.5 million, while net profit climbed to USD179.6 million from USD43.8 million in 2007. The company’s acquisition of regional broadband provider STREAM-TV helped broadband subscriptions climb 30% over the course of 2008, up to 925,000. The number of fixed lines in service remained stable, with 3.6 million at year-end and fixed line ARPU rising 4% to USD11.8.

Meanwhile, MTS saw revenues from its Russian operations rise 23.2% to USD5.88 billion for the full year. The company attributes the growth to subscriber additions and increasing voice and data activity. MTS added 7.2 million customers in 2008, ending the year with 64.63 million subscribers. OIBDA for the year was USD2.94 billion, a 20.6% increase on the previous year. Consolidated net income fell 14.2% year-on-year to USD1.07 billion due to foreign exchange losses.