UPDATE 1-Omantel Q3 profit rise limited by costs, unit losses

Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:09am EST

* Q3 profit 28 mln rials vs 27.43 mln rials a yr ago

* Q3 revenue 108.5 mln rials vs 109.9 mln rials a yr ago

* Rising, loss from Pakistan unit Worldcall weigh on profit

* Mobile broadband subscribers up 67 pct

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, Nov 13 - Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) posted a slight rise in third-quarter net profit, missing analysts' estimates as rising costs and losses from a Pakistan unit offset mobile broadband gains and lower asset depreciation.

The former monopoly on Tuesday reported net profit of 28 million rials ($2.6 million) for the three months to Sept. 30, up from 27.43 million rials in the year-earlier period, according to Reuters calculations.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast Omantel would make a quarterly profit of 29.88 million rials.

Quarterly revenue was 108.5 million rials. This compares with 109.9 million rials a year ago.

Nine-month net profit rose 9.2 percent to 90 million rials, Omantel said in a statement, while revenue increased 2.9 percent over the same period to 342.9 million rials.

Omantel said a 67 percent increase in mobile broadband subscribers was the main reason for revenue growth this year, together with rising wholesale revenue, which was up 8.5 percent year-on-year.

Omantel has fought back against domestic rival Nawras , a unit of Qatar Telecom (Qtel), in part by hosting mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) Friendi and Renna.

These lease excess capacity, paying wholesale fees and usually a percentage of revenue, while Omantel can also count the MVNOs' subscribers as its own.

Omantel, which also owns Pakistani operator WorldCall, said its group subscriber base was 3.77 million as of Sept. 30, up 9.8 percent from a year earlier.

"Loss incurred by Worldcall has slightly impacted group profitability growth," Omantel said.

Nine-month operating expenses increased 1.3 percent year-on-year to 247.2 million rials due to a larger wage bill and higher marketing costs and interconnection fees.

Depreciation of plant, property and equipment and amortisation of intangible assets fell by 5.9 million rials, Omantel said, without providing comparative figures. ($1 = 0.3850 Omani rials) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

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