Qatar-based Ooredoo reported a moderate improvement in its financial performance for the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second quarter and first half of the year, which were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the July-September period, group revenue fell by 2% year-on-year to QAR7.3 billion (US$2 billion), while EBITDA also dropped 2% to QAR3.25 billion ($893 million). However, net profit increased by a whopping 53% to QAR650 million ($179 million), which the operator appears to have attributed to a more favorable foreign exchange environment.
In the first three quarters of the year, revenue was 3% lower year-on-year at QAR 21.4 billion ($5.9 billion), while EBITDA dropped 4% to QAR9.25 billion ($2.5 billion). The net profit for the period grew by 16% to QAR1.47 billion ($404 million).
Ooredoo also announced that Group CEO Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani is to retire at the end of this year. At the same time, the operator said Aziz Ahmad Fakhroo has been appointed managing director of Ooredoo Group, although it did not clearly indicate if Aziz is to take over the helm and fulfill CEO duties in future.
COVID-19 continues to make its mark
Ooredoo attributed the 3% decline in revenue during the first nine months to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with a reduction in handset sales and roaming business as well as macroeconomic weakness in some markets. "This was partially offset by growth in Indonesia," the operator added.
Ooredoo is active in ten markets in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia and said conditions had been particularly challenging in Algeria, Kuwait, Iraq and Oman. The group was able to expand its customer base by 3% to 119 million customers, boosted by additions in Indonesia and Myanmar during the first nine months.
The operator said most of its markets were able to report revenue growth in the third quarter compared to the April-June period.
Some 5G progress
Ooredoo provided limited details of its 5G expansion, noting only that Ooredoo Oman increased 5G coverage further. The group has already launched 5G in Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, and is trialing 5G services in Indonesia, Myanmar and Maldives.
On Monday, Indosat Ooredoo said Huawei would be "one of its strategic partners" to build a programmable, 5G-ready transport network supported by segment routing IPv6 (SRv6).
In March this year, Ooredoo awarded a 5G contract to the China-based vendor covering Kuwait, Oman, Indonesia, Tunisia and the Maldives. It has also launched a 5G cloud-native core network using Nokia equipment in Qatar and has been testing 5G and 4G carrier aggregation tests over 200MHz of bandwidth with Ericsson.
The operator has also partnered with ZTE for 5G development in Mynamar.
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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading