Bloomberg News

Zain Expects Profit to Rise, Finances Remain Strong, CEO Says

March 29, 2012

Mobile Telecommunications Co., Kuwait’s largest mobile phone operator known as Zain (ZAIN), expects to post higher profit this year even as competition increases, Chief Executive Officer Nabeel Bin Salamah said.

“We’re facing a lot of competition and it’s not an easy year for us,” Bin Salamah said in an interview today at Zain’s headquarters in Kuwait City. “The impact of the last three years will be felt in 2012 but the company will perform better than last year.”

Zain posted net income of 284.9 million dinars ($1 billion) last year, down from 1.1 billion dinars in 2010, when it sold most of its African operations to Indian billionaire Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI) for $9 billion. Zain failed in September to sell a 25 percent stake in Zain Saudi Arabia to Kingdom Holding Co. (KINGDOM) and Bahrain Telecommunications Co. In March 2011, Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT) abandoned plans to buy a majority stake in Zain.

“We have a very healthy and strong financial position,” Bin Salamah said. “Zain’s debt-to-equity ratio is 25 percent, which is considered low.”

Zain, the market leader, competes in Kuwait with National Mobile Telecommunications Co., known as Wataniya (NMTC), and with Kuwait Telecommunications Co., which operates under the Viva brand.

Zain shares were unchanged at 870 fils in Kuwait City trading today. The stock has declined 3 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at

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