Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has posted a 59% year-on-year increase in its net profit to QAR1.04 billion (USD287 million) in the second quarter of this year, on revenues that grew by 30% to QAR5.9 billion, as it booked a QAR343 million gain after Kuwaiti subsidiary Wataniya Telecom won a court ruling reversing provisions it had set aside in a dispute with the country’s communications ministry. Qtel, which operates in 17 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, saw its consolidated customer base reach 52.2 million at end-June 2009, up 2% year-on-year. Overall subscriber growth was inhibited by Indonesian group member Indosat changing its methods of counting active users; in line with what Qtel called its strategy of ‘identifying and removing calling card-type behaviour in the subscriber base’, Indosat users fell from 33.2 million at mid-2008 to 29.4 million at the end of 2Q 2009.
In Qatar, Qtel’s total customers grew by 29% y-o-y to 2.2 million at end-June, with mobile subscriptions up 32% at 1.9 million, whilst in the first six months of 2009 domestic revenues rose 11% to QAR2.9 billion and EBITDA increased by 6% to QAR1.8 billion. Aside from its one-time gain in the second quarter, Wataniya’s group revenues for January-June 2009 fell to QAR2.9 billion from QAR3.1 billion in H1 2008, as the effects of competition were felt in a number of its markets, whilst EBITDA at the Kuwaiti group for the half-year was QAR1.2 billion, compared to QAR1.3 billion in the first half of 2008. Despite the tough climate, Wataniya’s consolidated customer base grew by 14% y-o-y to 11.9 million at end-June 2009. In Oman, Qtel said that subsidiary Nawras’ customer base rose 30% to 1.7 million in the same period, whilst Asiacell in Iraq increased its customer base to seven million by mid-2009 from 4.8 million a year earlier; the Iraqi unit also reported higher revenue in the first six months of 2009 of QAR1.8 billion, up from QAR1.2 billion in H1 2008, and 6M EBITDA grew by 53% to QAR941 million.