UAE-based operator group Etisalat saw a drop in third-quarter profit despite an increase in revenue, as its operating costs increased sharply following its consolidation of Pakistan operator PTCL.

For the period to 30 September 2013, the company reported a net profit of AED1.83 billion ($498 million), down 18 per cent year-on-year, on revenue of AED9.59 billion, up 20 per cent.

It said that if adjusting its bottom line to reflect the partial sale of its investment in XL Axiata, its net profit would have increased by 2 per cent.

Revenue from its international operations increased by 41 per cent to AED3.4 billion, representing 35 per cent of consolidated revenue. Egypt was identified as a weak point, with revenue declining 14 per cent to AED1.12 billion, attributed to currency devaluation, whereas the Asia unit saw growth of 285 per cent to AED1.57 million following the consolidation of operations in Pakistan.

Total debt reached AED6.11 billion, up from AED4.96 billion at the end of September 2012. It said that most of this is related to international operations to finance investments in networks, and the majority of the balance is for long-term maturity.

During the quarter, Etisalat and Vivendi extended the validity period of Etisalat’s offer to acquire a 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, with a proposed value of €3.9 billion. This expires this week – 31 October 2013.

Etisalat also noted that under Moroccan regulations, it will need to make a tender offer for the remaining shares in the operator, which may see it further increasing its holding. The outstanding free float represents an additional 17 per cent of the total number of shares.

Also, Pakistan arm PTCL submitted a non-binding offer to acquire 100 per cent of Warid Telecom.