Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has posted an 11.6% rise in annual net profits, reporting a consolidated figure of QAR2.6 billion (USD699 million) in 2011 across its operations in 16 countries in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region and Asia. Driving the profit increase, the group’s revenues rose by 16% in the year to QAR31.8 billion as its consolidated customer base (which includes 13 of the markets in which Qtel has a presence) expanded by 12.5% to 83.4 million at the end of December 2011, compared to 74.1 million twelve months earlier, with the majority of subscribers using mobile services. The net profit growth was also boosted by operational and infrastructure improvements across its international footprint and growth in the data services segment, the Qatari company said, as reported by Gulf Times. Annual group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) climbed by 18.7% to QAR14.8 billion and it maintained an EBITDA margin of 47% in 2011.
In Qatar, Qtel earned revenues of QAR5.7 billion in 2011 (18% of the group total), up from QAR5.6 billion the previous year, and had a combined domestic mobile, fixed line and broadband customer base of 2.4 million, indicating a virtual standstill in overall numbers on an annual basis. ‘Recognising the ongoing growth potential of the Qatar market, Qtel reorganised into functional business streams [in Qatar], enabling faster and more effective decision-making, in the last quarter of 2011,’ Qtel noted alongside the release of the annual results. Its statement added: ‘The change process has been designed to improve the customer experience, by enabling Qtel to launch new services and resolve issues faster and more effectively. It will also support ongoing cost optimisation efforts. Progress on key infrastructure in the last quarter of 2011 positioned the company to expand into new business areas in 2012… The completion of technical preparations and regulatory approval ensured that Qtel was ready to commercially launch Qtel Fibre in 2012, opening new opportunities in the high speed broadband and entertainment areas. The company also launched its Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G programme, to provide cost-effective, fast multimedia mobile data services for customers.’
Qtel’s CEO Nasser Marafih commented on the results: ‘Data remains a key strategic focus for us in many markets and an important driver of our 2011 and future growth. The opportunity for our group in data has only just begun and is, in fact, just one of many opportunities that we see on the horizon. To capitalise on technology changes, our strategy is evolving. In the year ahead, we will increase our focus on differentiated customer experience, on transforming the way we manage our operations, and we will embrace emerging and adjacent opportunities to expand our business.’ In interviews last week, Marafih said Qtel remained keen to expand further via acquisitions, but would follow a pragmatic strategy, targeting operations with critical mass and near its existing geographic footprint. Most important, though, he stated, was to focus on organic growth in Qtel’s existing markets including Tunisia, Algeria and Iraq where its networks require major investment. Qtel would seek third-generation licences which could be issued this year in Tunisia and Algeria, while alongside mobile development the group was looking to build out fixed line networks in these countries, the CEO said.