Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has announced its results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2012. Consolidated net profits fell to BHD60.3 million (USD160.0 million) from BHD80.0 million the previous year, and group EBITDA also fell to BHD101.8 million versus BHD126.0 million posted in 2011. The company attributed the decline to aggressive competition in Bahrain, restructuring costs for 2012 and 2013 and a number of one-off adjustments including expenses associated with an extensive restructuring and cost rationalisation programme at the domestic division. Consolidated total annual revenues stood at BHD304.7 million in 2012, down by 6.8% from BHD327.0 million a year earlier, while fourth-quarter total group revenue was BHD77.2 million, down by 5.3% from BHD81.5 million in the same period of 2011. At year-end 2012, 41% of revenues and 39% of EBITDA were sourced from overseas markets – up from 37% and 31% respectively in 2011 according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database – helping to partially offset the effects of intense competitive pressures in Bahrain.
The group’s total subscriber base grew to more than 7.8 million across six markets, representing 18% growth year-on-year, driven by strong results in Jordan and Yemen during the year and in the fourth quarter in particular. Mobile subscriber numbers grew 17% year-on-year and 5% quarter-on-quarter. Broadband customers increased by 52% year-on-year and by 18% in October-December 2012, with results supported by progress in Bahrain and Jordan. Figures excluded results from operations in India, where Batelco’s agreed sale of its 43% stake in S Tel is pending completion, and the Bahraini telco is suing its Indian partner for non-payment.
The Bahraini group’s domestic division achieved a 3% increase in mobile subscriber numbers during the fourth quarter of 2012, although year-on-year the mobile base saw a 5% decline as a result of ongoing and aggressive competition and a ‘challenging’ regulatory environment, Batelco said. Bahraini mobile broadband subscribers increased by 56% y-o-y and 8% q-o-q, but fixed broadband and fixed line customers reduced by 8% and 5%, respectively y-o-y, whilst remaining ‘stable’ over Q4 2012.
Umniah in Jordan delivered 3% growth in its mobile subscriber base to 2.4 million, following the launch of 3.5G services (adding 122,000 3G subscribers during 2012). Umniah reported fixed and wireless broadband subscriber growth of 521% y-o-y and 62% q-o-q.
In Kuwait, Batelco claimed that Qualitynet remained the market leader in the data communications and internet sector, maintaining market share and ending the year with 39,000 customers.
Sabafon (Yemen) returned to growth in 2012 following stabilisation of the country’s political situation and the rationalisation of the customer base, which was completed in the first quarter, excluding non-active SIM cards. Sabafon ended 2012 with a subscriber base of more than 4.1 million users, up by 33% y-o-y and 9% q-o-q.
Atheeb (Saudi Arabia) made a shift in its business model during 2012, focusing on the high margin business segment, resulting in an annual decline of 11% in total voice and data services customers, while the company was successful in adding a ‘significant’ number of new business customers to keep numbers steady on a quarter-on-quarter basis, and in terms of growing revenues.
Batelco recently announced a deal to enlarge its footprint by acquiring equity interests in Cable & Wireless Communications’ Monaco & Islands division across eleven new markets, which was approved by the shareholders of both companies in early January 2013, and which remains on track to close during the first quarter.