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Batelco Group AGM Approves BD36.0M (US$95.5M) Cash Dividends & 10% Bonus Shares for 2012

Batelco Group AGM Approves BD36.0M (US$95.5M) Cash Dividends & 10% Bonus Shares for 2012

Batelco Group AGM ApprovesBD36.0M (US$95.5M) Cash Dividends & 10% Bonus Shares for 2012

000AGM - Shaikh Hamad With Members Of Batelco BoardBatelco Group (Ticker: BATELCO), the regional telecommunications operator of reference with operations across six countries, today held its Annual General Meeting for the twelve-months ended 31 December 2012 ("the year") and additionally an Extra-Ordinary-General Meeting to discuss proposed changes to Batelco's Memorandum and Articles of Association. The meetings, held at Hamala headquarters, were attended by Shareholders, Company Directors, executive management, management, employees and members of the press.

The Group's 32nd AGM saw shareholders approve the recommendation of the Board of Directors for a full year cash dividend of BD36.0M (US$95.5M), at a value of 25 fils per share, of which 15 fils per share was already paid during the third quarter of 2012 with the remaining 10 fils to be paid in March 2013.  The meeting also saw shareholders pass the Board's recommendation for a 10% bonus share issue, awarding one extra share for every 10 shares.

The meeting, which was presided over by the Chairman of the Board, Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, follows the recently convened Ordinary General Meeting of the Group held in January 2013, which saw Batelco shareholders approve plans for the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications' (CWC) Monaco and Islands Division.

Speaking on the occasion, Shaikh Hamad Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Group Chairman, said: "We are pleased to continue to build and return value to our shareholders as demonstrated by another strong dividend payment, bonus shares and the progress made throughout the past year in achieving growth and diversification of the Group at all levels. Delivering returns to our shareholders, which year after year surpass the industry average and that of our peers, remains a priority for the Group and one which we work hard to balance alongside the continued investments we are making in the expansion of our network and the Batelco brand across the MENA region and globally.

"As announced, we ended the year on a strong note with sound results and foundations for the coming year. For 2012, we reported Net Profits of BD60.3M (US$160.0M). This was the result of effective operational management and ongoing strong cash flow generation, despite extremely competitive market conditions in Bahrain and across the MENA markets. We also ended the year with a solid balance sheet comprising net assets of BD520.2M (US$1,379.8M), low debt and cash and bank balances of BD95.0M (US$252.0M). The strength of our financial position, our strategy and the direction in which we are taking the Group, in addition to having the support of our shareholders, was also affirmed by Batelco's continued Investment Grade Credit ratings from Fitch and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services confirmed in November 2012 and January 2013, respectively. All of this paves a smooth path for the Group as we pursue our strategy for delivering value and growth in the coming year."

Market Leadership in Bahrain and Growth Overseas

Supporting Shaikh Hamad at the meeting, Shaikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Group CEO, provided highlights of Batelco's financial and operating performance for 2012 and its strategy for growth and diversification for 2013.

"2012 was another year of marked progress across the Group," said Shaikh Mohamed. "Throughout the year, we remained focused on maintaining market leadership in Bahrain and on growing our business and presence in overseas markets. We took decisive steps to enhance our competitiveness at home and across our operations - from a financial and operational perspective - through the adoption of a broad ranging programme aimed at maximizing efficiency, competiveness and the cost structure of the Group."

"We also made considerable strides in the advancement of our growth strategy. Subscriber numbers for the year were successfully increased by 18%, when normalised year over year, reaching 7.8 million customers across six markets. And, as announced, we were also extremely pleased to have embarked upon a strategic acquisition in December 2012, which will see Batelco emerge as a global telecommunications company of reference with enhanced revenue streams and a global footprint and presence in some 17 markets in all."

Shaikh Mohamed continued: "With the approval of our shareholders, we are moving towards closing this transaction by the end of the first quarter of this year. We are also working hard on other key initiatives of the Group which remain central to our ability to deliver even greater value for our customers and shareholders as we go forward."

Commitment to Those We Serve 

Group Chairman Shaikh Hamad also acknowledged Batelco's central role in the community saying: "The strength of Batelco and the success we continue to enjoy is wholly routed in our commitment to our customers and those we serve. At the centre of our operating and broader corporate philosophy is the continuing drive to develop, innovate and grow.

"This is essential in building our market leadership and maintaining the loyalty of our customers. It also shapes our approach to our relationships with the community and the investments and support that we are committed to providing to the many initiatives and organisations that we have long been associated with in the Kingdom of Bahrain. During 2012, more than BD1.6M was provided to sports, social, health and education related initiatives and charitable organisations. This comes in addition to our efforts to support start ups and the small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs that are the backbone of the economy."

Shaikh Hamad concluded: "We have an exciting year ahead for the Group, which as we've said will be transformative for Batelco and will see us further grow, diversify and develop our business and market leading brands.

"What will not change is our dedication to our shareholders and customers who we thank for their continued loyalty and support for Batelco Bahrain and our subsidiary companies across the MENA region. Our success and our ability to serve them is ultimately the result of the tremendous hard work and commitment of our management teams and staff across the Group. We also thank them for their ongoing dedication and support. Working together, we expect to deliver even stronger value and performance in the months ahead."