Qatar-based multinational telecoms group Ooredoo has posted Q1 2019 revenue of QAR7.19 billion (USD1.95 billion), a decline of 6% compared to the same period of last year, largely driven by a reduction in mobile handset sales, an industry-wide shift from voice services to data services, as well as macroeconomic and currency weakness in some of its markets. Group EBITDA rose 4% year-on-year to QAR3.17 billion with a corresponding EBITDA margin of 44% (up four percentage points) mainly due to rigid cost management, reduced costs from equipment sales and a positive impact from the new IFRS 16 accounting standards, changing the classification of operating leases. Quarterly group net profit attributable to Ooredoo shareholders was QAR420 million, down 13% y-o-y primarily due to lower FX gains in Myanmar compared to the previous year. Excluding the FX impact, net profit would have increased by 8%. Ooredoo added that its underlying data service revenue continued to rise, to account for 50% of total group revenue (QAR3.6 billion in the three months to end-March 2019), driven by increased monetisation of data services from consumer and enterprise customers.
Ooredoo’s consolidated group customer base declined 25% year-on-year from 151 million to 112 million at 31 March 2019, but this was caused by a clean-up of its Indonesian mobile customer base, following new SIM card regulations last year. Customer bases increased in Kuwait, Algeria, Tunisia, Myanmar, Maldives, Iraq, Qatar and Palestine.
Ooredoo Qatar reported Q1 2019 revenue of QAR1.83 billion (1Q19: QAR1.98 billion) with stable service revenue partly compensating for a drop in device sales. Qatari EBITDA stood at QAR1.04 billion (Q1 2018: QAR955 million) supported by ongoing digitisation of internal processes and other cost optimisation initiatives. Qatari customer numbers remained ‘stable’ at 3.3 million.
At Indosat Ooredoo – the group’s second largest revenue earner – a response to new market dynamics saw the company shift ‘from a push to a pull go-to-market strategy’, leading to lower churn rates. Consequently, despite a y-o-y reduction in customer numbers by 45% to 53.3 million (due to SIM regulation/user accounts clean-up), Indonesian revenues grew 2% to QAR1.56 billion in the first quarter of 2019, while the division’s EBITDA grew by 10% to QAR642 million reflecting cost optimisation/efficiency programmes.