x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UAE's du sees quarterly profits near Dh1bn on tax write back

The Dubai-listed telecoms operator du said its quarterly profit more than doubled as it wrote back tax provisions and saw an increase in its subscriber base.

Du reported a net profit of Dh994 million for the fourth quarter of 2012. Charles Crowell for The National
Du reported a net profit of Dh994 million for the fourth quarter of 2012. Charles Crowell for The National

Telecom operator du's quarterly profit more than doubled as it wrote back tax provisions and saw an increase in its subscriber base, the UAE company said today.

The firm, which ended rival Etisalat's domestic monopoly in 2007, made a fourth-quarter net profit of Dh994 million ($270.62 million) in the three months to December 31, up from Dh440 million in the year-earlier period.

Analysts had forecast average profit of Dh809.7 million, in a Reuters poll.

Fourth-quarter revenue was Dh2.74 billion. This compares to Dh2.4 billion a year ago.

UAE telecom operators are taxed via royalties under license agreements with the federal government. The latter announced a new formula in December that includes a levy on revenues as well as profits.

Du had provisioned to pay 50 per cent of its profit in royalty fees through the year, the same rate as the longer-established Etisalat.

But the new formula means it pays less tax as a percentage of profit than 2011, enabling it to write back some of the provisions it set aside in the first nine months of 2012.

Du paid 844 million dirhams in royalty fees for 2012, while pre-royalty net profit was 2.82 billion dirhams, which is equivalent to a tax rate of about 30 per cent.

This compares with 2011's royalty of 715 million dirhams and pre-royalty net profit of 1.81 billion dirhams, which equates to a tax rate of 39.5 per cent.

Du has proposed a cash dividend of 30 fils per share.

The operator's share of the UAE mobile subscribers increased slightly to 48.7 per cent, while average revenue per user - a key industry metric - rose to Dh117 in the quarter from Dh110 in the third quarter.

The company has sought to sign up more mobile customers to monthly, or post-paid, contracts, with these customers typically spending more and being less likely to switch provider. Post-paid subscribers accounted for 25.35 per cent of du's fourth-quarter mobile revenue of Dh2.18 billion, and 7.9 per cent of mobile subscribers.

Since December, du has secured a $500 million, five-year club debt facility to fund its medium-term capital expenditure, a $100 million loan from Singapore's DBS Bank and another $100 million financing deal with Standard Chartered. The money will be used largely for capital expenditure, du said at the time.