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Batelco Extends its Services to 9.8m Customers Focus on Diversification to Offset Challenges in the Home Market

Batelco Extends its Services to 9.8m Customers Focus on Diversification to Offset Challenges in the Home Market

Batelco Chairman Feb 2011Manama, Bahrain: Batelco Chairman Shaikh Hamad Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa announced gross revenues of BD80.81 million (USD214.4 million) and net profit of BD17.46 million (USD46.3 million),  for the first quarter of 2011, at a Batelco Group Board Meeting held on April 20 at Batelco's Hamala Headquarters.

"Across the Batelco Group of companies we have grown our customer base to 9.8 million, a further 600,000 customers since Q4 FY10 and a 54% increase since this time last year. However, our Group operation continues to be affected by the expected losses in establishing and growing our Indian joint venture, S Tel, and the intensity of competition in Bahrain," Shaikh Hamad said.

"Supporting the Kingdom of Bahrain's 2030 vision remains a priority for Batelco and accordingly we continue to invest in infrastructure and in enhancing our mobile and fixed networks. We expect to complete within weeks a major upgrade of our mobile network expansion programme at an investment of BD14.5 million. This will ensure we deliver very fast, up to 21Mbps wireless data services throughout the Kingdom and enhance coverage and quality of service in newly developed or remote areas," he added.

Batelco Group Chief Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos stated: "Batelco's Q1 results are consistent with market guidance."

"Our gross revenue of BD80.81 million declined 4% against Q4 2010 whilst net revenues of BD63.07 million were flat, quarter-on-quarter. An increase in revenue by Umniah and QualityNet were offset by competition, regulation and the recent events in the Bahrain market. Our Operating Profit of BD23.27 million (USD61.7 million) declined by 9.4% against Q4 2010 due to increases in operating expenses and staff costs. However our share of losses from our Indian joint venture, resulted in a Net Profit of BD17.46 million (USD 46.3 million), a 16% drop versus Q4 FY10," explained Mr. Kaliaropoulos.

"We remain focused on cash management and our cash balance of BD65.88 million grew by 10% year on year. We remain debt free and in a sound position to raise funds for future expansion," he added.

Mr. Kaliaropoulos continued by stating that even though Batelco faces tough competition in every market it operates in, the Group has witnessed growth for both mobile and internet services across all their operations with few exceptions.

Batelco's operations outside Bahrain contributed 37% of revenues and 27% of EBITDA in Q1 2011.

"Impressive performances from our overseas operations have grown the Group's customer base to over 9.8 million. We are confident that we will cross the 10 million subscriber figure by the end of April 2011, just four months behind our original goal of end 2010, set out in 2005."

"Thanks to customer confidence and top quality, competitively priced products and services, Batelco in Bahrain maintained 45.6% market share in mobiles with a total of 745,000 customer accounts, a decline of 3% versus Q4 FY10."

In Yemen, Sabafon's mobile subscriber base has grown to reach over 3.6 million customers while at S Tel in India, the subscriber base has swelled to 2.82 million at the end of Q1 FY11," Mr. Kaliaropoulos continued.

"Umniah in Jordan has grown its mobile customer base to reach 2.2 million subscribers."

The Group CEO added that the Broadband subscriber base across the Group is also growing steadily with an increase of 21% YoY.

"Atheeb's GO Brand for broadband and voice services in Saudi Arabia continues to make inroads and now delivers to over 116,000 customers, representing a 50% rise in their customer base over the course of the past year."

"In our home market, whilst our Fixed Broadband numbers have declined by 15%, this has been offset with an 89% increase in our Mobile Broadband subscribers, balancing out to a modest 3% growth overall."

"We continue to meet the challenges delivered by competition and by regulatory measures which restrict our delivery of innovative products and services coupled with best prices, in Bahrain. Accordingly, we have enhanced our Broadband package line-up, rolled out new services for mobile customers and continue to launch new campaigns to support all our customers," he added.

In  February Batelco announced a major enhancement  to its Broadband packages, with automatic upgrades which delivered a combination of faster speeds, higher threshold limits and lower prices. This was followed up by the introduction of a completely new Broadband package priced at only BD12 which delivers a speed of up to 1Mbps with 4GB threshold limit. Batelco delivers 8 consumer Broadband packages ranging from the entry level BD10/ 640kb/2GB package up to the 16MB/100GB package.

"On the mobile side, our delivery of up to 21MB coupled with a choice of voice & data package options, provides our mobile broadband customers with a first rate service whilst on the go,"   added Mr. Kaliaropoulos.

For postpaid customers Batelco introduced'My Package', a totally convenient service which allows postpaid customers to customise their mobile package by adding different bundled services to suit their specific needs and budget. This is a first of its kind service for telecommunications in the Bahrain market. Following on from the successful launch, the Company announced a cash prize winning promotion which will run until June 13, for allMy Packagesubscribers. At the end of the promotional period allMy Packagesubscribers will be entered into a raffle draw to win cash prizes of BD1000, BD300 and BD200 for first, second and third prize respectively.

Batelco's customers can also avail of some excellent ongoing deals such as receiving a FREE O-net device with each new subscription to its BD10 O-net package and interest free installment deals for Laptops and PC's as part of Batelco's Broadband packages.

Leader in the Field of Marketing

As part of its delivery of a wide range of products and services, Batelco's marketing campaigns are winning accolades internationally. At the MENA Cristal Awards held in February 2011, Batelco was named as Client of the Year and took home a total of 19 awards for its innovative and successful advertising campaigns of 2010, implemented by Bahrain's FP7, the region's pre-eminent advertising company.

Batelco has also been presented with a huge collection of awards at the Dubai Lynx International Advertising Festival held in March. Batelco took home one Grand Prix, one Gold, 11 Silver and several Bronze awards for its 2010 campaigns, from the prestigious event.

Expansion a Priority

Mr. Kaliaropoulos stated that the Group's growth strategy continues to be an area of priority.

"We were pleased to receive acceptance of the non-binding offer made in collaboration with Kingdom Holding Company to acquire 25% of Zain KSA, from the Board of Directors of Zain Kuwait and are proceeding with the process of due diligence. We remain optimistic for a positive outcome for the Kingdom-Batelco Consortium in due course," he said.

The Batelco Chairman Shaikh Hamad provided an update on Batelco's CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme saying that Batelco had entered 2011 focused on several philanthropic initiatives.

"As part of our CSR programme to support health, education, sports and cultural initiatives, we have already paid out over BD200,000 in the first quarter in sponsorships and donations," he said.

Shaikh Hamad continued by thanking Batelco's loyal staff who have continued to exert their best efforts in delivering services for customers during the recent difficult times experienced in Bahrain.

"As a complete telecommunications provider, Batelco has a responsibility to maintain its communication links in Bahrain and internationally for the benefit for all. Batelco's Board of Directors appreciates the collective and continuous efforts of employees in making it possible to provide telecommunications services to all residents in the kingdom," Shaikh Hamad added.

Mr. Kaliaropoulos echoed the Chairman's sentiments in thanking the dedicated staff who pulled out all the stops to ensure the delivery of crucial communications services for the Kingdom recently.

"Batelco has a sound reputation for reliability built up over decades thanks to its comprehensive range of products and services for all segments of the market delivered with the tremendous support of Batelco's employees. It is this commitment that helps us to maintain our lead in the Bahrain telecoms market and gives our Brand a competitive edge.

"We anticipate tough challenges ahead in the Bahrain market. However, we have the experience and knowledge to retain market leadership by providing excellent customer care, a full range of services and better value every day of the year," he concluded.

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