Kuwait telco Viva turns profitable, four years after launch

Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:06am EDT

* 2012 net profit 3.9 mln dinars vs loss of 14.4 mln dinars in 2011

* Subscriber base up 60 pct to 1.6 million

* Says 2012 market share 29 pct, up from 20 pct in 2011

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, March 21 (Reuters) - A rapidly increasing customer base helped mobile operator Viva Kuwait make an annual profit for the first time in 2012, four years after the Saudi Telecom Co (STC) affiliate launched services.

Unlisted Viva on Thursday reported a net profit of 3.9 million dinars ($13.69 million) for last year. This compares with a net loss of 14.4 million dinars in 2011, according to a statement on its website.

The operator, which competes with Zain and Ooredoo (Qatar Telecom) subsidiary Wataniya, said its customer base rose by 60 percent to 1.6 million last year, enabling it to boost its market share to 29 percent from 20 percent.

Kuwait has no telecom regulator and market share figures are disputed by the rival operators - former monopoly Zain puts its share at 42 percent, with Viva and Wataniya on 21 and 37 percent respectively.

Viva said its 2012 cash flow was 32.2 million dinars, up from 72,000 dinars a year earlier. It did not publish its annual revenue.

STC owns 26 percent of Viva, which has yet to list on the Kuwait bourse despite completing an initial public offering in September 2008.

Viva has refused to comment when asked by Reuters in the past to explain the delay. The company remained reticent in its earnings release, stating only that it had filed a listing request with the stock market regulator in February 2012 and was awaiting a response. ($1 = 0.2849 Kuwaiti dinars) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Clelia Oziel)