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Ooredoo announces Q4 rise in profit

Qatar based Ooredoo, the operator formerly known as QTel, has announced its fourth quarter revenues rose by 6.2 per cent to reach QAR8.71bn ($2.4bn). Net profit also increased by 14.6 per cent to QAR523m.

The operator said that its growth in revenue was driven by healthy increases in Iraq, Algeria, Qatar and Indonesia supported by a stable performance by Nawras.

During the quarter, the operator reached agreement with the Tunisian Government to acquire a further 15 per cent stake in Tunisiana for a total consideration of $360m, taking the Group and its subsidiaries’ total holding in Tunisiana to 90 per cent.

It also successfully completed a mandatory tender offer for National Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C., also known as Wataniya Telecom Kuwait, increasing Ooredoo’s shareholding in the operator from 52.5 per cent to 92.1 per cent.

As of December 31, 2012, the Group’s consolidated customer base stood at 92.9 million, representing year-on-year growth of 11.5 per cent compared with the 83.4 million subscribers the firm had at the end of 2011.

“Key milestones in technological and network enhancements, such as the introduction of 4G services and the transition from 2G to 3G across key markets, have been achieved in 2012,” said Nasser Marafih, Group CEO.

“We are also working towards greater customer intimacy, getting closer to our customers’ wants and needs than ever before, which in turn will increase our value proposition. As Ooredoo, we have a young, exciting brand that reflects the aspirations of our customers – we will continue to deliver on their aspirations now and in the future.”

QTel announced that it will rebrand its majority-owned operations as Ooredoo last week at Mobile World Congress 2013. The name means “I want” in Arabic and gives an indication of the aspirational nature of the new brand, according to Carrie Pawsey, telco strategy analyst at research firm Ovum.

“QTel hopes that uniting its operations under a single brand will help it to realise its ambition of becoming one of the 10 largest mobile operators in the world by 2015,” she said. “It has some way to go to catch the leading players though, with the world’s largest operator, China Mobile, boasting more than 680 million subscribers. The France Telecom Group, which currently sits just outside of the top 10 in terms of subscribers, has more than 130 million mobile connections.”

Pawsey added that in addition to growing its market share in existing operations, QTel is on the acquisition trail at a time when most operators are retrenching and looking to sell non-performing operations.

“The operator has already spent $4bn this year on increasing its stake in Kuwaiti operator Wataniya and Iraqi operator Asiacell,” she explained. “It is also rumoured to be interested in Vivendi’s 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, although other established players such as Etisalat have also been linked with the operator.”

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