Vodafone Qatar, a mobile network provider and second national operator (SNO), has reported an 18% year-on-year rise in total revenue to QAR696 million (USD191 million) in the six months ended 30 September 2012, the first half of its UK-based parent group’s fiscal year, driven by a growing customer base, improved ARPU and higher handset sales. Six-month EBITDA grew 15% to QAR102 million. Net loss for the period widened to QAR240 million from QAR237 million in the corresponding period of 2011, partly due to a one-off QAR25 million accounting gain last year. Mobile subscribers increased by 15% year-on-year to 936,300 at the end of September 2012, and ARPU for the six-month period was QAR118 – up by 7.0% year-on-year due to strong demand for data services, and the company expects a further boost in take-up from the introduction of mobile number portability next spring. Vodafone Qatar is also preparing for a 4G LTE trial in Q1 2013, while in its fledgling fixed broadband segment it noted that its first enterprise customers in the Barwa City area now have access to broadband services with up to 100Mbps connection speeds.
The UK’s Vodafone Group, which owns a minority stake in Vodafone Qatar but has management control, has extended its original five-year management contract by another five years to June 2018. As part of the deal Vodafone Group reduced the percentage of the cellco’s revenues it receives as management fees, from 5% to 3.5%, ‘to reflect the increased scale of the business and the transition to a fixed and mobile operation,’ a joint statement read yesterday. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that 45% of Vodafone Qatar’s shares are controlled by Vodafone & Qatar Foundation LLC, a UK-Qatari joint venture 51% owned by Vodafone Group, giving the latter a 22.95% overall stake; the British firm has overall board control and has expressed confidence that there will be an opportunity in the future to take a majority stake in its Qatari business.