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Growing Customer Base, Revenues and Profits in Bahrain and across Regional Markets

Growing Customer Base, Revenues and Profits in Bahrain and across Regional Markets

Chairman Shaikh Hamad Bin Abdulla Al KhalifaGroup CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos 2010Manama, Bahrain: Batelco Group Chairman Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said that Batelco's strategy in delivering a full range of  communications services  that offer the widest choices for customers in  Bahrain, and growing in regional markets, were the major factors in the Company's strong overall performance for 2009. The Batelco Group's annual financial results were announced at a Board meeting, held at Batelco Hamala headquarters on January 28th.

Batelco Group delivered the highest ever gross revenues from its Bahrain and six other operations, totalling $920.2 million (BD346.9m) a solid 9% growth year-on-year, and its highest ever net profit of $278.5 million (BD105.0m).

 Net revenues grew by 8% to $712.7 million (BD268.7m) and earnings per share remained steady at 72.9 fils compared to 72.4 fils in 2008.

"We are very pleased to deliver this sound set of figures which were achieved by the successful uptake of world-class products and services, coupled with competitive offers and a diligent approach to cost containment across all our operations," said Shaikh Hamad.

"We have maintained our market leadership in Bahrain, continued to grow across the Middle East region and got off to a successful start in India, despite the highest competitive intensity in every market in which we operate."

"Our Board of Directors will recommend to the General Assembly of Shareholders a cash dividend of $191 million (BD72m) representing the equivalent of 50% of the paid-up capital - at a value of 50 fils per share, of which 20 fils per share was announced and paid in July 2009. The remaining 30 fils will be paid after the Annual General Assembly," Shaikh Hamad added.

Group Chief Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos said that 2009 has been a significant milestone for Batelco in terms of new business ventures coupled with record financial results.

The Company's expansion strategy has resulted in over 5.1 million mobile subscribers, a strong 19% year on year increase, and 200,000 Broadband customers from its operations in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Yemen and India.

"We achieved strong revenue growth, managed our costs carefully and delivered record EBITDA at $405.8 million (BD153m) and the highest Operating Profit in the company's history of $296.3 million (BD111.7m). Batelco's overseas operations contributed 31% of gross revenues and 22% of EBITDA. All our business operations delivered within business plan expectations in 2009," Mr. Kaliaropoulos stated.

"Batelco, as part of our partnership with STel in India, began the roll out of mobile services in December, and in doing so moved out of our familiar comfort zone of the MENA region and opened a new frontier for future growth. Within six weeks of launching our business, our customer base in India has grown to over 450,000 customers.

"We also launched, together with Atheeb, our new broadband and voice services in Saudi Arabia under the GO brand, the first company to offer very credible 4G services and challenge the incumbent operator," Mr. Kaliaropoulos added.

Etihad Atheeb Telecom Company, branding as 'GO' announced the launch of its nomadic 4G voice services for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with highly competitive prices, in November '09, and walked away with the award for Best New Entrant at the Telecoms World Middle East Awards held in December.

Mr. Kaliaropoulos continued by outlining the tremendous success enjoyed by Batelco's Jordanian operation, Umniah.

"Umniah succeeded in winning 27% market share from the mobile market in Jordan; Umniah currently has 1.650 million subscribers for GSM, 9 K Wimax customers and another 9 K for ADSL. We have also managed to increase our revenues significantly during 2009 and have delivered data services to business customers in Jordan."

Bahrain remains the most important market for Batelco," Mr. Kaliaropoulos emphasised.

"We compete for customers in every market we operate. In Bahrain, competitive pressure and ongoing regulatory reform are great motivators to keep us innovating and improving for the benefit of our customers."

"Our rebranding initiative in December has been a resounding success based on our customers and employees feedback. Our new Batelco logo, an ultra modern and relevant look and feel is ideal for today and for the future. Our new insignia reflects our reassurance to our customers, that Batelco is 100% committed to improving their everyday life, every day."

"Our brand promise has been supported by tremendous work on process improvement and we are delivering some of the best quality of service results to our customers in Bahrain and aiming daily to improve by measuring and re-engineering," said Mr. Kaliaropoulos.

"Batelco now operates in 7 geographies and whilst our strategy includes further growth and diversification overseas, our operation in Bahrain remains the heart of the Group and the most crucial element in our future success."

Batelco in Bahrain had 822,000 active mobile subscribers, 85,000 Broadband customers and 200,000 fixed lines, as of the end of 2009.

Batelco Wins Major Regional Awards

"The number of awards we receive annually continues to grow, confirming that our operational strategies are successful in meeting our customers' expectations."

"Following the successful completion of our $57 million next generation network, which gave Bahrain the honour of being the first country in the world with countrywide Broadband access, we were named'Fixed Line Operator of the Year'by the leading telecom industry figures who attended the TMT Finance Middle East Conference in  Doha, Qatar," said Mr. Kaliaropoulos.

Also, in recognition of the state-of-the-art network, Batelco picked up the 'NGN Operator of the Year'accolade at the Samena Awards which took place in tandem with the Convergence to Istanbul Conference, in Turkey. The SAMENA Council also presented Batelco with the 'Best Telecom Deal of the Year'award for their entry into the Indian market in partnership with STel.

"Additionally, CommsMEA recognised our significant expansion into the Indian market by  presenting Batelco with the Telecom Deal of the Year Award at the 4th annual CommsMEA Awards held in Dubai in December," added Mr. Kaliaropoulos.

Rounding off the year on a high note, Batelco was named Telecoms Company of the Year at the Arabian Business Achievements Awards 2009, held in Dubai in December.

"We were pleased to compete for such accolades with very respected, extremely large regional companies to receive the award, which was given to us in recognition of our commitment to provide innovative technologies and excellent customer care, as well as for our strategy for expansion beyond the borders of Bahrain."

"Achieving such successes is a team effort and I am delighted with the level of commitment shown by our employees across all the companies we are involved with; their competitive spirit, their passion for customers and their determination to strive for excellence at all times is our competitive edge," added Mr. Kaliaropoulos.

Our people

Batelco Group Human Resources General Manager Shaikh Ahmed Al Khalifa said that the Company's 'Knowledge Hub' in Bahrain had a very successful year in 2009 in delivering many new training programmes for staff and also external customers.

"In excess of 70,000 hours of training were delivered for over 1000 staff members, representing 72% of employees, at an investment of BD1 million," he said.

"We offered a choice of 250 e-Learning courses for our staff and established a Project Management Portal for staff embarking on PMP (Project Management Professional) certification courses. We are also very pleased that 110 of our managers successfully completed a Business Ethics course. Throughout the year, 278 staff completed a total of over 650 e-courses."

"In recognition of our investment in an innovative range of e-Learning products, we received 'The Most Creative and Diverse Implementation of Technology Based Learning'award, at the Technology Based Learning Awards 2009, held in Kuwait in October," Shaikh Ahmed added.

Part of the Local Community

Batelco Chairman Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa spoke about Batelco's Corporate Social Responsibility saying that Batelco's sponsorship and donation strategy aimed to have a positive affect on the lives of as many of Bahrain's residents as possible.

"During 2009, we committed over BD4 million towards a diverse range of worthwhile initiatives," said Shaikh Hamad.

"On the health front, we were very prompt in joining the battle to prevent the spread of the H1N1 Virus by donating 550 Thermoflash devices for use in the Kingdom's schools. These devices continue to be used around the country on a daily basis to pick up any sign of illness in school-going children."

"Our Ramadan Gift Basket drive, an annual event at Batelco, saw 22,000 boxes of foodstuffs delivered to charities around the Kingdom during the holy month."

"In support of education, we contributed BD200,000 toward the Crown Princes' Scholarship Fund, as part of a BD1 million commitment to provide 3rd level educational opportunities in leading international universities, for some of Bahrain's brightest students."

The Batelco Chairman Shaikh Hamad stated that he wanted to extend his appreciation, on behalf of the Board of Directors, to all Batelco employees in Bahrain and overseas for their contribution to the continued success of the growing Group of companies.

Batelco Group Chief Executive Mr. Kaliaropoulos concluded by saying that Batelco's executive management and staff are poised to build on the successes of 2009 and deliver a raft of new and relevant products and services that aim to keep customers among the best connected in Bahrain and the region.

"During 2009 Batelco delivered on its promise to provide innovative products & services at value for money prices, achieved some major milestones, improved its customer care and collected coveted awards. We proved that we are not only a company with a changed face and a new logo but one that recognises that positive renewal and relentless focus on operational excellence  is necessary to meet our customers' evolving communications demands in Bahrain and across the region."