Kuwait-based telecoms group Zain has published its consolidated financial results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2017, reporting revenues of KWD1 billion (USD3.3 billion), down 5% year-on-year, while EBITDA decreased 19% annually to KWD414 million. The company booked a net profit of KWD160 million in the twelve months under review, up 2% y-o-y. Zain disclosed that it incurred foreign currency losses amounting to USD82 million in respect of net income and USD213 million in respect of revenue for the twelve-month period to 31 December, predominantly due to a 53% currency devaluation in Sudan.
In operational terms, Zain Group reported a consolidated customer base of 46.6 million at 31 December 2017, down 1% y-o-y. In Kuwait subscriber numbers reached 2.7 million (up from 2.5 million the previous quarter although down from 2.95 million at end-2016 as the company reported ‘intense’ price competition), while Jordan saw its customer base decrease to 3.9 million (down 8% y-o-y). Zain Saudi Arabia’s subscriber base also decreased, to 8.2 million in Q4 2017, as a result of the government’s biometric identification project (which reduced the number of pre-paid SIMs to two per ID), while Zain Iraq served 14.7 million users at end-2017, up 16% y-o-y.
Group CEO Bader Al-Kharafi said: ‘The ongoing implementation of our digital lifestyle strategy combined with substantial investment in network technology upgrades and cost optimisation initiatives is proving successful as we recorded growth in several key financial metrics across many of our key markets for the full-year and fourth-quarter of 2017 … Notable positive highlights for the year include the SAR1 billion (USD264 million) net profit turnaround in Saudi Arabia where the transformation programme is taking full effect resulting in the operation recording its first ever annual net profit. We also returned to profitability in Iraq where socio-economic conditions are gradually improving, and we are proactively taking grasp of the many opportunities in this promising market.’