Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

Etisalat reports flat quarterly profit as revenue falls

The UAE's biggest telecom operator’s total subscriber base climbed 5% to 148 million

Etisalat's net profit rose to Dh2.3bn in the third quarter to September. Pawan Singh / The National 
Etisalat's net profit rose to Dh2.3bn in the third quarter to September. Pawan Singh / The National 

Etisalat, the UAE’s biggest telecom operator, reported flat net profit in the third quarter of the year on slightly weaker sales.

For the three months to September 30, net profit came in at Dh2.28 billion, despite sales declining 1.3 per cent year-on-year to Dh12.98bn, according to accounts filed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares trade.

Etisalat said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were 3 per cent higher at Dh6.8bn and its aggregate subscriber base was up 5 per cent year-on-year to 148 million.

“Etisalat’s performance in the third quarter demonstrates our agility in adapting to the rapid changes in the telecom industry,” said Saleh Al Abdooli, chief executive of Etisalat Group.

Net profit for the nine-month period increased 2.1 per cent to Dh6.73bn, despite revenue falling 1 per cent to Dh38.85bn.

The operator, which is majority owned by the government, also owns and operates subsidiaries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Its subscriber base in the UAE reached 12.4 million in the third quarter.

Etisalat, which had a monopoly in the UAE until du entered the market in 2007, has also launched ultra-high speed mobile broadband 5G services this year. It is constructing 1,000 5G towers in the country and will be spending Dh4bn on digital transformation and improving its mobile and fibre network this year.

“We have channelled our efforts towards leading the digital transformation with the successful roll out of 5G networks while equipping our operations with the next generation of technologies like AI [artificial intelligence] and robotics,” added Mr Abdooli.

In May, Etisalat became the first service provider in the region to announce its 5G network service, supporting smartphones for commercial use. It was soon followed by du and Bahraini operator Batelco.

The telecom company has teamed up with Chinese tech giant Huawei to roll out 5G across the UAE and became the first to sell a compliant smartphone in the country in May.

A 5G network promises internet speed of up to 1.2 gigabits per second, which will gradually evolve to reach 10Gbps — more than 100 times faster than 4G.

EFG Hermes, an Egyptian investment bank, said Etisalat’s results came broadly in line with its estimates on most levels.

“Numbers are in line at all levels – revenue, EBITDA and net income – and it seems like there are no major surprises,” Omar Maher, vice president of telecoms at EFG Hermes, told The National.

“Overall results are steady, further cementing the clear visibility on future earnings and dividends, in our view.”

The company, which owns a 28 per cent stake in Saudi telecom operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), has also signed an agreement, for an undisclosed amount, to acquire full ownership of cyber-security company Help AG’s business in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Updated: October 23, 2019 05:17 PM

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