Kuwait-based Zain pointed to turnarounds in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as major driving forces behind an increase in net profit for Q4 2017, although currency weakness in Sudan took its toll.

In a statement, Zain, which operates in eight markets across Africa and the Middle East, reported a net profit increase of 16 per cent year-on-year to KWD37 million ($124 million), on revenue which remained flat at KWD262 million.

The company added currency devaluation, which specifically referred to weakness in the Sudanese pound, cost it KWD16.2 million in revenue and around KWD1.8 million in net income during the quarter.

Alongside Q4 figures, the company also released its full year results. Consolidated revenue for 2017 hit KWD1 billion, down 5 per cent, while net income climbed 2 per cent to KWD160 million.

Currency weaknesses, again predominately in Sudan, cost the company KWD148 million in revenue and KWD24.6 million in net profit over the full year. Without currency impacts, revenue would have grown 8 per cent and net income 17 per cent, added Zain.

Saudi Arabia swings
Zain does not break out quarterly numbers for individual markets, but noted a particular highlight was a first ever full year net profit for Zain Saudi Arabia, which climbed to SAR12 million ($3.2 million) from a loss of SAR135 million in 2016.

The company launched operations in the market in August 2008. Total revenue in 2017 reached SAR7.53 billion, a 6 per cent year-on-year increase, which was largely attributed to a 30 per cent rise in data revenue.

In Iraq, full year revenue grew to $1.1 billion, a 2 per cent increase year-on-year, while the unit swung back to a profit of $29 million from a loss of $5 million in 2016.

Zain said its Iraq unit performed exceptionally “despite the challenging yet improving socio-economic circumstances facing the operation”. Highlights included a growth in data revenue, expansion of 3.9G services in the country and an increase of 2 million customers.

Indeed, data uptake was a major plus point for the company across its footprint. Revenue from the segment increased 3 per cent for the year, accounting for 25 per cent of total group revenue.

“Across our operations, Zain continues to focus on data monetisation, smart city and enterprise initiatives, which are all fast and profitable business areas,” added Zain group CEO Bader Al Kharafi.