DUBAI: Etisalat Group’s revenues rose by 2.01 per cent to Dh52.36 billion compared to Dh51.32 billion a year ago due to the strong performance from UAE and Maroc Telecom operations. In the UAE, revenue increased by 5.46 per cent as a result of an increase in revenue from data services, expanded the customer base of broadband usage and increased offerings of business solutions, digital and ICT services. Etisalat said that 2015 earnings had been restated. Net profit attributable to equity holders increased by 1.93 per cent to Dh8.4 billion compared to Dh8.26 billion a year ago, the company said in a statement on Abu Dhabi stock exchange. According to Brand Finance’s Global 500 recent report, Etisalat had its brand value increase by 45 per cent to $5.5 billion last year due to growing user numbers, innovation and a strong profit. Sukhdev Singh, vice-president at market research and analysis services provider Kantar AMRB, told Gulf News that growth for Etisalat, or for that matter any telco in the region is increasingly driven by data services adoption. In near future, one expects the trend to continue.
Given the high penetration of smartphones, particularly in the UAE, he said that the increase in data services was expected. Unlike voice services where margins are more predictable and prices are broadly similar, what one pays out for data services in the UAE varies a lot by operators. “At times, for the same money, one operator offers twice the data as compared to the other. This leads to considerable spend on marketing and promotion, often at the cost of sacrificed margins. This is also evident from comparatively lower growth in operating profit as compared to growth in revenues,” he said. The telecom operator’s net operating profit increased by 2.10 per cent to Dh11.63 billion compared to Dh11.39 a year ago.
Etisalat operates in 18 markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa with 167 million subscribers in 2015. Subscriber base for 2016 is not available. In August, the group completed the sale of its 92.3 per cent shareholding in Sudanese fixed line operator Canar to Sudan’s Bank of Khartoum and received Dh349.6 million in return for the stake. The telecom operator is facing issues in Pakistan and the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Technology and Telecommunication in Pakistan have asked etisalat, a major shareholder of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) in 2006, to pay $800 million outstanding dues recently. Etisalat has so far paid three instalments totaling $400 million. The committee has given a time of one month to etisalat to settle and address the issue amicably.