UPDATE 1-Qatar's Ooredoo Q1 net profit rises on asset sale

Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:21pm EDT

* Q1 profit 887 mln riyals vs 808 mln riyals year ago

* Q1 revenue 8.1 bln riyals vs 8.4 bln riyals year ago (Adds details)

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, April 30 (Reuters) - Qatar telecom operator Ooredoo reported a 9.7 percent rise in first-quarter profit on Wednesday following the sale of a stake in an Indonesian tower company.

The former monopoly, which operates in about 15 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, made a net profit of 887 million riyals ($243.62 million) in the three months ended March 31, it said in an emailed statement. This was up from 808 million riyals a year earlier.

One analyst polled by Reuters forecast Ooredoo would make a profit of 786 million riyals.

First-quarter revenue fell to 8.1 billion riyals from 8.4 billion.

Ooredoo described its performance in Qatar, Oman and Algeria as "robust", but warned the "operating environment remains tough with persistent price competition in Iraq, Kuwait and Indonesia".

In Indonesia, Ooredoo said intense completion was to blame after unit PT Indosat posted an 18 percent drop in revenue to 1.78 billion riyals.

But the sale of a 5 percent stake in a tower company helped Indosat lift its net profit to 261 million riyals from 17 million the previous year.

In March, Indosat agreed to sell the stake in PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure Tbk for $122 million.

Ooredoo's domestic revenue rose 8.3 percent to 1.71 billion riyals.

In Tunisia, quarterly profit fell by a fifth to 99.2 million riyals, a drop Ooredoo said was due to the North African country's political and economic instability.

Earlier on Wednesday, Omani subsidiary reported a 14 percent rise in first-quarter net profit as fixed line and mobile data revenue grew and earnings from international calls increased.

Ooredoo's profit in the fourth quarter of 2013 fell by more than a third as foreign exchange losses and start-up costs ahead of its Myanmar launch weighed.

($1 = 3.6408 Qatar Riyals) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Erica Billingham)