Data generates more than $1 billion for Zain Group

15 July 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Zain Group's data revenues reached $1.05 billion in H1, representing 42% of the group's revenues for the period.

Group-wide, it means Zain has now recorded H1 consolidated revenue of $2.5 billion. However, it marked a slight downturn on the $2.6 billion recorded for H1 last year.

Across all activities, total profits increased 17% reaching $138 million over Q2 and taking H1 profit growth to 5%, reaching $285 million.

Of the revenues generated, 20% were reinvested allowing the group to channel $491 million into capex. The group also noted that it is expanding its fintech projects in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and South Sudan.

Vice chairman and group CEO Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi (pictured), said: "This period was characterised by a number of key features, the most prominent of which was targeting more digital investments, and accelerating the pace of digital transformation of our business, as we invested more than $491 million in capital expenditures (representing 20% ​​of the volume of revenues), and this was mainly in expanding and developing FTTH infrastructure, purchasing spectrum fees in some of our markets; in addition to our upgrade projects on 4G and 5G networks."

The group's market announcement further states that it would be structuring international trade services and wholesale "to take advantage of growth opportunities in the Middle East markets."

Regional results

Around the region growth was steady, however currency devaluations did affect the Sudan and Iraq businesses.

In Saudi Arabia, H1 revenues amounted to $1 billion and the company recorded a net profit of $22 million. Data revenues represented 50% of the total revenue and the company's customer base was stable at 7.4 million, however, year on year this did equate to an increase of more than 4%. Half-year revenues amounted to $1 billion.

In Bahrain, data once again drove performance, pushing related revenues up by 5% to represent 45% of the business's revenue. Zain Bahrain’s operations achieved semi-annual revenues of $87 million.

Zain Jordan's revenues increased by 5% to reach $245 million, and earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation grew by 15% to reach $118 million.

Counting 2.4 million subscribers in Kuwait, this division of the business remained the most profitable across the group and the main financial indicators for H1 showed a revenue growth of 4%.

Zain said in its market announcement: "Zain Kuwait's operations are achieving a remarkable advantage in attracting customers for broadband and fifth generation services, as it has captured the largest market share for fifth generation customers."

In Iraq, Zain recorded semi-annual revenues of $376 million and a net profit of $24 million for the same period. The customer base grew by 7% to reach 16.1 million.

Zain Sudan recorded a net profit of $41 million for the same period, compared to $15 million in the last year, while data revenue grew by 4% to account for 28% of the total revenue. Zain Sudan’s customer base grew by 8% to reach 17 million customers.

However, currency devaluations in Sudan and Iraq cost the group $378 million in consolidated revenue. Total customer numbers were affected by the termination of the contract for Touch in Lebanon. Last year, the government took over the operating licenses of both mobile operators, with the country's telecoms ministry appointing new management from November 2020.

To plug the gap, Al-Kharafi added that new prices and packages will be introduced in both markets. 

He said: "We at Zain Group are currently taking a series of initiatives that we aim to reduce the impact of currency devaluation, as the executive management has proactively taken decisive initiatives to improve cost in all markets, and both Zain Iraq and Zain Sudan have renewed prices, and introduced new attractive packages to monetise data."