Earnings reports

MTC Revenues Grow 49 Percent

Mobile Telecommunications Co. (MTC) , a service provider that provides mobile operations in 20 countries throughout the Middle East and Africa, on Friday reported a 49 percent increase in revenues for the first half of the year as its customer base rose 42 percent. The company plans to go public later this year. (See MTC Reports H1.)

The Kuwait-based carrier racked up revenues of $2.77 billion, up from $1.86 billion in the first six months of 2006. Net income grew 13 percent year on year, from $454 million to $515 million or $0.28 per share.

MTC operates in six Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait and Bahrain where it partners with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), and 14 countries in Africa through its Celtel International B.V. subsidiary. It ended June with 32.15 million subscribers.

MTC has been investing heavily to build out its networks and acquire new licenses in markets with high growth potential. The company was given official approval of its $6.1 billion bid with a consortium to acquire Saudi Arabia's third mobile license earlier this week, and it has prequalifed for bidding along with 11 other companies in the auction for Qatar's second mobile license. (See MTC Receives Saudi Approval and Qatar Shortlists Mobile Cos.)

CEO Saad Al Barrak said in a statement: "Our aspirations of being a top-ten global operator by 2011 are well on target as our ACE implementation strategy takes shape. MTC is currently examining several new license opportunities on both continents."

MTC said Monday that it will take out $3.7 billion in loans in the next three weeks to help pay for the license in Saudi Arabia. It plans to invest $2 billion in the new operator, which is due to launch in the first half of 2008 and will run GSM and 3G services.

Under the conditions of the license, MTC will have to offer a 40 percent stake in the operator to the public in a $1.5 billion IPO later this year. Of the remaining 60 percent, MTC will hold a 25 percent stake, its Saudi consortium partners will also hold 25 percent, and the government's General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) and Pension Fund will each own five percent.

In its home market, MTC is set to face increasing competition as the state-owned Kuwait Investment Authority this week invited companies to register their interest in the country's third mobile license, which will provide a competitor to MTC and Wataniya Telecom early next year.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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