UPDATE 2-Expanding data services drive Kazakh KCell mobile firm's H1 growth

Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:09am EDT

(Adds KCell CEO comments)

ALMATY, July 17 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's No.1 mobile phone company KCell said on Thursday its first-half 2014 net profit increased by 10.1 percent year-on-year to 32.147 billion tenge ($175.2 million), driven by expansion of its data services.

KCell CEO Ali Agan said of the robust growth: "It's continued focus on cost-efficiency and providing extra services to our customers."

KCell, controlled by Swedish-based TeliaSonera AB, said its revenue rose by 3.2 percent year-on-year to 92.142 billion tenge in the January-June period.

Revenue from voice services declined by 5.5 percent in the first half of this year, while data revenue was 43.9 percent higher than in January-June 2013, KCell data showed.

KCell faced lower consumption by its customers following the depreciation of the national tenge currency by around 20 percent in February, but it remained focused on cash generation.

In June revenues increased by 7.9 percent, Agan said, adding that KCell had started selling iPhones that month.

Agan said he expected the growth in KCell's revenue to be from "low single-digit to mid-single digit" this year.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), excluding non-recurring items, rose 8.1 percent in the first half to 53.208 billion tenge.

KCell raised $525 million when it went public on the London Stock Exchange in December 2012.

Kazakhstan, a vast steppe nation of 17 million, is Central Asia's largest economy and the second-largest post-Soviet oil producer after Russia.

The number of KCell's subscribers stood at 12.88 million at the end of the second quarter. (Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Miral Fahmy)

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