UPDATE 2-Kazakh mobile firm KCell says profit falls on dividend payment
* KCell says lower net profit due to dividend payment
* Sees growth in regions across Kazakhstan
* In talks with government on obtaining 4G licence (Adds KCell CEO Agan quotes, details)
ALMATY, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's largest mobile phone operator, KCell , said its net profit for January-September fell 2 percent from the same period a year earlier to 45.13 billion tenge ($294 million).
The decrease in the company's net profit was due to a special dividend payment, KCell Chief Executive Officer Ali Agan told Reuters in a telephone interview.
KCell, controlled by Swedish-based TeliaSonera, paid a special dividend this year equivalent to 100 percent of its net income in the second half of last year, totalling 32.4 billion tenge.
While net profit fell, KCell said revenue increased 3.7 percent in the nine-month period to 138.1 billion tenge as subscriber numbers and data traffic grew. In the third quarter alone, KCell's subscriber base rose by 174,710 to 14.25 million.
Kazakhstan, five times the size of France, has a population of just 17 million. The country is Central Asia's largest economy and the second-largest post-Soviet oil producer after Russia.
"We are focusing on three main issues - our market leadership, data services and cash generation," Agan said.
"To do so, our priority is to increase the quality of our network, focusing on the company's position in the regions, organisational transformation, as well as sustainability."
In May, TeliaSonera announced plans to launch a 4G high-speed wireless network in Kazakhstan.
"We are still closely working with the government in order to obtain the licence," Agan said. "KCell has frequencies suitable for 4G. As soon as we obtain the licence, KCell is ready to launch 4G."
KCell said its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), excluding non-recurring items, rose 1.3 percent in January-September to 76.13 billion tenge compared with the same period a year earlier
The company raised $525 million by floating 25 percent of its stock when it went public on the London Stock Exchange in December. Its global depositary receipts, originally priced at $10.50 per share, traded at $15.8 at 1030 GMT on Thursday.
Agan said the company had no plans for further flotations of its shares in the near future.
($1 = 153.52 tenge) (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David Evans)