Dubai telco du sees profits rise 40.5% on lower taxes

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Du, the United Arab Emirates' number-two telecom operator, posted on Thursday a 40.5 percent rise in first-quarter profit, beating analysts' estimates as lower taxes, reduced operating costs and a rising customer base added to the bottom line.

The firm, which ended rival Etisalat's domestic monopoly in 2007, made a net profit of Dh467.9 million ($127.38 million) in the three months to March 31, up from 333.13 million dirhams in the year-earlier period, it said in a statement.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast du would make a quarterly profit of Dh454.2 million.

In December, the UAE announced changes to the royalty fees - or tax - levied on du's earnings.

Previously, the company provisioned to pay half its profit in royalties, but in the first quarter this fell to 37.7 percent, according to Reuters calculations.

First-quarter revenue was Dh2.63 billion. This compares to Dh2.45 billion a year ago.

Total quarterly overheads were Dh698 million, or 26.6 percent of revenue. In the same period of last year, overheads represented 32.4 percent of revenue.

"Efficiency and cost control will remain a strategic driver throughout 2013 and beyond," chief executive Osman Sultan said in the statement.

First-quarter mobile data revenue rose 32.8 percent to Dh520 million.

"Growth in mobile data revenues reflects the ongoing shift in network traffic from voice to data, a trend we expect to continue," Sultan added.

The company had 6.64 million mobile subscribers as of March 31, up 19.9 percent from a year earlier, giving it a 48.1 percent share of the UAE's mobile subscribers.

The company's shares have gained 46.4 percent in 2013, outperforming Dubai's index which is up 31.7 percent over the same period.