Batelco aims for net profits in the range of BD40 - 45 million in 2018

Operator group's net profits for 2017 declined significantly though the company managed to grow its revenues organically for the first time since 2009
The business is in great shape, with strong fundamentals, a solid subscriber base and a local market that is outperforming, says Batelco's Chairman Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa
The business is in great shape, with strong fundamentals, a solid subscriber base and a local market that is outperforming, says Batelco's Chairman Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa

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Batelco's gross revenues increased 3% YoY in 2017 to reach BD379.4 million ($1,006.4million).

Organic gross revenue, which grew for the first time since 2009, was boosted by double-digit growth in broadband and digital services, reporting 16% and 13% growth respectively. QoQ gross revenues also reported an 8% increase.

Group operating profit grew by 2% notwithstanding voluntary employee retirement costs of BD8.1 million ($21.5million) incurred in Batelco Bahrain. Adjusted net profit, excluding impairments and one-off gain on land, was reported to be more than BD40.0 million ($106.1million). The Group's balance sheet remains robust, with cash in hand of BD158.7M (US$421.0M).

The Board of Directors has recommended a full year cash dividend of BD41.6 million ($110.3 million), at a value of 25 fils per share to be agreed at the Group's Annual General Meeting, of which 10 fils per share was already paid during the third quarter of 2017 with the remaining 15 fils to be paid following the AGM in March 2018.

Batelco's Chairman Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, said: "The business is in great shape, with strong fundamentals, a solid subscriber base and a local market that is outperforming. However, some of our international businesses continue to feel the impact of the political and economic instability across the region and we are providing them with all the support necessary to get them through this difficult period.

EBITDA for the year was BD124.7million ($330.8million), a decline of 8% YoY. The group has attributed the decline in EBITDA mainly to BD8.1million ($21.5million) voluntary employee retirement costs incurred in Batelco Bahrain. The Group continues to concentrate on its cost containment programmes and sustained a robust EBITDA margin of 33%.

The Group ended the year with net profit of BD3.5million ($9.3 million) compared to BD37.6 million ($99.7 million) reported in 2016, a 91% YoY decline. The Group reported a Q4 2017 net loss of BD21.7 million ($57.6million) compared to a net profit of BD5.2million ($13.8million) in Q4 2016, a 518% decline. The reduced net profits for the period are being attributed to impairment losses related to the Group's investments in Yemen and Jordan which were acquired in 2007 and 2006 respectively.

Batelco Group CEO Ihab Hinnawi said: "2017 saw Batelco Group perform well despite a challenging regional operating environment, as demonstrated through our strong financial performance and transformational programmes, which saw a 3% increase in revenues from the previous year. The growth from the past year was mainly driven by our operations in Bahrain, Jordan and the Maldives, and through our diversified revenue streams - primarily digital and broadband services."

"While we reported a decline in net profit, this was primarily due to the prudent and conservative strategy of our management team to impair certain assets in Yemen and Jordan, and is not a reflection of the overall health of Batelco. We believe the Group is fundamentally in great shape and we expect net profits in the range of BD40 - 45 million in 2018."

Batelco Bahrain CEO Mohamed Bubashait said: "Bahrain remains one of Batelco's most robust markets, reporting a 3% YoY increase in revenue for 2017, boosted by the growing success of fixed broadband and digital services. Batelco's domestic growth in broadband services was driven by heavy investment in its Fibre Rollout Programme to accommodate the demand for faster internet services, which contributed to a 32% YoY increase in broadband subscribers.

"Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in Bahrain's digital future and to contribute to the Kingdom's social and economic growth, specifically through investing in world class datacenter services, fintech solutions and new technologies. All of this supports the Kingdom's transition to a digital and diversified economy," Bubashait added.

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