Dominant fixed line and mobile operator Mauritius Telecom said 2008 post-tax profits dropped 5% year-on-year to MUR1.9 billion (USD51 million) on the back of increased interest payments, but confirmed its plans to list on the Indian Ocean island’s stock exchange. Full year turnover climbed 6.5% last year to MUR6.8 billion, chief executive Sarat Lallah told reporters, driven by 12% growth at its mobile unit Cellplus Mobile Communications. The official noted that in May the government of Mauritius imposed new taxes on local phone firms, including a 5% levy on profits and 1.5% on revenues as part of a wider plan to keep the budget deficit in check. Mauritius Telecom had planned to list last year but postponed the event in the wake of the global credit crunch. Although it stopped short of providing a date for the listing, its chairman Thomas Appalsamy confirmed it was still on. ‘The company has completed its due diligence exercise and now shareholders are working on the price and the number of shares that will be floated on the Stock Exchange,’ he said.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Mauritius was home to more than 1.03 million mobile subscribers at the end of March 2009, of which around 600,000 were with Mauritius Telecom. Formed in March 1996 and launched that October following the expiration of rival Emtel’s monopoly, Cellplus Mobile Communications was the first operator to offer GSM mobile services in Mauritius. It operates GSM-900/1800 and W-CDMA networks, the former boasting more than 165 cell sites and coverage of 99% of the population and over 98% of territory.