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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Etisalat profit hit by global subscriber base slump

Financial statements were not immediately posted on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange’s website

The operator proposed a dividend of 40 fils per share for the first half of the year. Satish Kumar / The National
The operator proposed a dividend of 40 fils per share for the first half of the year. Satish Kumar / The National

Etisalat, the country’s biggest telecom operator, posted around an 11 per cent drop in operating profit before federal royalty during the second quarter, as the operator’s global subscriber base slumped 15 per cent.

The Abu Dhabi-based operator, which owns and operates subsidiaries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said that operating profit before federal royalties reached Dh8.8 billion, suggesting a figure of Dh4.36bn for the second quarter, according to calculations by The National. This compared with Dh4.9bn in the second quarter of 2016.

Etisalat did not provide quarterly breakdowns for its financials for the quarter, in a statement issued on Wednesday evening. Financial statements were not immediately posted on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange’s website.

The operator proposed a dividend of 40 fils per share for the first half of the year, unchanged from the last two years.

The fall in profits came after Etisalat’s aggregate subscriber base fell to 139 million across its footprint at the end of June, compared with 163 million a year previously.

Etisalat did not provide a breakdown of its subscribers outside the UAE, where its customer base grew up 2 per cent at 12.4 million.

“Etisalat group’s geographic footprint expands across the Middle East, Africa and Asia witnessing various opportunities and challenges in each market that are governed by specific economic conditions,” said Etisalat Group’s chief executive Saleh Al Abdooli.

“Some of these markets witnessed macroeconomic challenges that imposed limitations on investments and future growth.”

The operator recently cut its ties with its operations in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous market, after a plunge in the value of the Naira and a worsening domestic economy led its subsidiary to default on loan payments during the quarter.

The UAE remains a bright spot for the operator, with revenues rising by 3 per cent year on year to Dh15.4bn in the first half of the year.

The operator’s net profit for the country rose 7 per cent over the same period to Dh4.2bn.

Du, the UAE’s second largest telecoms operator, announced flat profit for the second quarter of the year, beating analyst forecasts, and halting a long decline in quarterly earnings thanks to rising revenues.