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Norwegian mobile phone operator Telenor reported second-quarter earnings a touch below expectations on Wednesday, but kept its full year revenue and margin guidance, and said its rapid growth in Burma continued.
Telenor said its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 11 percent to 10.57 billion Norwegian crowns (US$1.30 billion) compared to expectations for 10.77 billion crowns in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Competition and a weak economy in Thailand, as well as under-performing units in Pakistan and Malaysia, were offset by the new business in Burma, profits in India, and stable developments in Telenor’s largest single market, Norway.
In Burma, the corporation’s EBITDA jumped to $59 million from a loss of $10 million a year ago, well above forecasts for $25 million. Burma, officially known as Myanmar, one of the world’s least connected nations, surprisingly turned profitable last quarter.
Telenor and Qatar-based firm Ooredoo were awarded two highly prized telecommunications licences in June 2013, beating out competition from several major international companies. The 15-year contracts include stipulations that the two foreign firms support the Burmese government’s ambition to cover 50 percent of the country with mobile internet services in five years.
Often described as the world’s last untapped telecoms market, Burma has a nationwide internet coverage rate of just six percent, while only a third of Burmese have a telephone.