Etisalat, UAE's incumbent telecoms carrier. Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Etisalat Group on Wednesday reported a net profit of Dh2.2 billion for the first three months of 2020 (Q1) in their latest financial results, representing a two per cent decrease year on year.

The company’s financial results also reported consolidated revenues of Dh13.1 billion, a one per cent increase compared to last year. The group’s revenue in the UAE was down three per cent to Dh7.6 billion, with the company attributing the fall to increased competition and slower economic activities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the group’s revenue in the UAE was down, Etisalat’s international revenues did see an increase of four per cent to Dh5.2 billion, with the company attributing the rise to the strong performances of Etisalat Misr and the consolidation of Tigo Chad into Maroc Group Financials.

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Like most companies, Etisalat has seen its operations impacted by COVID-19, and while net profits were down year on year as a result, its net profit was actually up 11 per cent compared to the last quarter and the last three months ending in 2019, highlighting the group’s ability to operate through these times, and in particular during March when most of the stay home measures were passed.

Etisalat also announced that its board of directors approved an interim dividend payout of 25 fils per share, with the group’s shareholders approving a full year cash dividend of 80 fils per share for the fiscal year 2019.

“As we navigate through these challenging times, Etisalat has showed resilience and remained committed towards the communities it serves, ensuring business continuity and readiness, minimising impact on our operations and uninterrupted services to our customers,” said Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, chairman of Etisalat Group.

“Etisalat’s performance in the first quarter reflects our agility in dealing with unprecedented market challenges and pressures facing the telecom sector globally. We are also thankful to the vision of our wise leadership in the UAE in positioning the country among the most digitally advanced globally,” he added.

“Moving ahead, we remain optimistic about the future as there are immense opportunities in the midst of the challenges and pressures faced by the telecom sector globally. With digital enablement and innovation making an impact on every sector, the world is moving in full force towards achieving digital transformation.”

Al Tayer said Etisalat also remained on track to delivering 5G, with the company placing the roll out of 5G on the top of its priority list.

“5G network is more important than ever as it will be a key enabler of remote business, education, entertainment and has the capability of addressing customer current and future needs.

“Etisalat’s pioneering position in 5G will bring these futuristic solutions to governments, businesses and consumers alike reiterating our efforts in digital innovation and also our leadership as a telecom brand regionally and internationally,” he added.

Etisalat said its capital expenditure (capex) on the rollout of 5G was Dh0.5 billion during Q1, a 16 per cent increase on 5G expenses compared to last year, with its total capex at Dh1.1 billion, down 32 per cent year on year.

Subscribers up

Etisalat’s subscriber base was also up five per cent in Q1 to 150 million, with the group’s UAE subscriber base reaching 12.7 million, an increase of 1 per cent year on year and compared to the last quarter.

Internationally, Etisalat also saw its subscriber base reaching 68.5 million subscribers with Maroc Telecom, with its operations covering Morocco, Burkina Faso, Ivory Caost, Mali and Niger. The group’s subscriber base was also up in Pakistan to 25.9 million subscribers, representing a 4 per cent year on year increase.