Saudi Telecom made $573.46 mln in fourth quarter net profit

STC fourth quarter profit rebounds as Mobily swings to a loss

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Saudi Telecom Co (STC) reported a rebound in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday while the country’s second largest mobile telephone operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) swung to a loss.

Market leader Saudi Telecom reported a 10.3 percent increase in net profit, it said in a bourse statement, its first rise in 10 quarters.

STC, which owns stakes in operators in the Gulf, Turkey and Asia, made 2.15 billion riyals ($573.46 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, up from 1.95 billion a year earlier, as costs declined.

The earnings figure was in line with the average forecast of six analysts polled by Reuters.

Earlier, STC said it would pay a quarterly dividend of 1 riyal per share, in line with its three-year policy that started in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Meanwhile, Mobily, an affiliate of the UAE’s Etisalat, said pressure on revenue from implementing a government initiative to register fingerprints with phone numbers ultimately weighed on profit.

Mobily made a loss of 70.7 million riyals but beat estimates. The average forecast of six analysts was for a net loss of 106 million riyals.

Under rules announced last year, all SIM cards issued in Saudi Arabia must be linked to a fingerprint record held at the National Information Center, part of the Ministry of Interior.

Unregistered lines would begin to be disconnected from July 20, according to STC. The initiative is aimed at stopping people obtaining mobile phones by using fraudulent identification cards, according to press reports.

Earlier this month, Mobily said it had appointed Ahmed Abdelsalam Abdelrahman to replace Chief Executive Ahmad Farroukh. That followed Etisalat’s announcement in December that its management agreement with Mobily had expired and the companies were working on a new arrangement.

The country’s third operator Zain Saudi reported a 135 million riyal quarterly loss on Wednesday as its subscriber base fell 12 percent to 10.9 million.

STC said its customers of bundled services increased 19 percent in the quarter. Mobily did not provide any detail on subscriber numbers in its earnings release.

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