x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Analysts gloomy over sliding Jordan Telecom Group

Report says country's No 2 mobile phone firm likely to see revenue growth of just 1% over next four years.

Investors might want to turn a deaf ear to Jordan Telecom Group (JTG) as crowded competition and a saturated mobile market has slowed growth in the country's incumbent player to a crawl.

Despite having the most liberalised telecommunications sector in the Middle East, JTG has seen its revenues slip over the past few years from 401.4 million Jordanian dinars in 2008 to 396.4m dinars last year.

JTG's business has been hit by the influx of three other competitors in the local mobile market, now the most lucrative business for telecoms operators generally, which has driven calling rates lower, said a recent report by Rasmala Investment Bank.

JTG operates the mobile service Orange Telecom as well as Jordan Telecom, which handles the company's fixed-line operations.

France Telecom is JTG's main shareholder with 51 per cent of the company, while various Jordanian institutions hold 32 per cent and Noor Telecom owns 10 per cent. The remaining 7 per cent is publicly traded.

JTG is the second-largest mobile operator in Jordan with 29 per cent of the market, behind Zain Jordan, which has a 43 per cent share. Umniah, which is owned by Batelco, has 27 per cent of the market while XPress is at 1 per cent.

Rasmala initiated coverage of JTG on Tuesday with a "sell" recommendation and a 12-month target of 4.43 dinars.

Shrouk Diab, a telecoms analyst with Rasmala, said: "With the wireless segment of the Jordanian market almost at saturation levels, we believe that future growth will be correlated with growth in the internet and data segment.

"With its cash and know-how, JTG seems in a good position to take advantage of opportunities that may arise, all of which should provide some stability to the company's revenues."

However, Ms Diab forecasts the company's revenue growth to be just 1 per cent over the next four years.

"We believe that cost efficiency, at the operational level in particular, will be the main driver of bottom-line growth over the next few years," she said.

dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae