DVB Multimedia Group

Growth in Burma helps boost Ooredoo earnings

A billboard in Rangoon advertises Ooredoo's mobile services. (Photo: Feliz Solomon / DVB)

Qatari telecom operator Ooredoo reported a 16.4 percent gain in second-quarter net profit on Tuesday, boosted by increasing customer numbers across the group and by the performance of its businesses in Asia.

Ooredoo made a net profit of 583.2 million riyals (US$160 million) in the three months to 30 June, compared with a profit of 501.2 million ($138 million) riyals in the year-earlier period, it said in a statement.

Analysts at EFG Hermes and SICO Bahrain had forecast Ooredoo would make a quarterly profit of 478.5 million riyals ($131 million) and 680.5 million riyals ($187 million) respectively.

While the group’s consolidated customer base grew 14 percent year on year to 130 million, driven by strong growth in Burma and Indonesia, group revenue in the second quarter of 8.03 billion riyals ($2.2 billion) was flat to the same three months of 2015.

The earnings of the former monopoly, which operates in about a dozen territories across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, have been volatile since mid-2013 as foreign exchange losses and plunging earnings from war-torn Iraq outweighed a strong domestic performance.

The firm did not give quarterly breakdown for its different operations but said first-half net profit, up 46 percent to 1.46 billion riyals ($401 million), was boosted by growth in Asia and Algeria.

Its operations in Burma swung to a net profit of 79 million riyals ($21.7 million) from a net loss of 302 million riyals ($83 million) in the opening half of last year, aided by the doubling of its customer base to more than 8 million.

The head of Ooredoo’s Burma operations told Reuters in January it was investing more in the country and adjusting its strategy towards a more mass market approach after initially focusing on costly, higher-margin data services in a country that remains largely poor.

Indosat Ooredoo, the firm’s Indonesian arm, also swung to a net profit of 188 million riyals ($51.6 million) in the first half of this year, with Ooredoo citing the country’s stabilising currency and higher revenue from voice and data services for the turnaround.