Profit falls at Iraq's Asiacell as competition bites

DUBAI Thu May 29, 2014 5:39am EDT

DUBAI May 29 (Reuters) - Asiacell, Iraq's second-biggest mobile phone network operator by subscribers, posted a 34 percent drop in first-quarter net profit on Thursday, blaming increased competition.

The company, a unit of Qatar's Ooredoo, made a net profit of 102 billion Iraqi dinars ($88 million) in the three months to March 31, down from 155.2 billion dinars in the same period last year, it said in a statement.

Quarterly revenue fell by 9.4 percent to 512.9 billion dinars, despite a 4.9 percent rise in Asiacell's customer base, which stood at 10.8 million subscribers at the end of March.

"Fierce competition continued to dominate the Iraqi mobile telecommunications market during the first quarter of 2014," Asiacell's chairman Faruk Rasool said in the statement.

"We realise the market is going through a regular phase of high competition that should settle in the short to medium term."

The company's margin on its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was 44.9 percent in the three months, down from 50.1 percent in the same period last year. ($1=1164.0000 Iraqi Dinars) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Greg Mahlich)