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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Vodafone Qatar chairman quits following ‘difficult’ year


Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Vodafone Qatar has doubled its losses to QR466 million during its last fiscal year, the company has announced.

The news comes amid declining revenues that the company blames in part on customers’ increasing use of services such as Skype and WhatsApp instead of pricier long-distance phone calls.

Announcing the results today following the end of the fiscal year on March 31, the company also said that its chairman was leaving the board after three years “due to his other work commitments.”

Rashid Fahad Al-Naimi will replace Sheikh Khalid Bin Thani on an interim basis.

Al-Naimi currently represents Qatar Foundation – which owns 27 percent of Vodafone Qatar – on the telecom firm’s board.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The company has failed to turn a profit since it broke the local monopoly of Ooredoo – then known as Qtel – when it launched in 2009.

Repeated losses have put Vodafone Qatar in a state of flux in recent months. For example, the firm replaced its CEO in December and laid off staff this month.

Vodafone’s primary competitor, Ooredoo, has also cut staff but managed to increase profits in its home market by 11 percent in 2015.

International calling

In recent quarters, Vodafone Qatar has blamed competition with Ooredoo for forcing it to cut prices for mobile services.

This has caused its average revenue per user, a key industry metric, to fall from QR122 per month last year to QR107.

In a statement, Al-Naimi said the price war has continued to hurt Vodafone, but also pointed to another culprit:

“The past year has been difficult for the company with the impact of structural changes in our industry, namely the increasing use of data at the expense of international voice traffic,” he said.

The company has previously lambasted services such as Skype, suggesting that they have an unfair advantage over traditional operators.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In 2013, Vodafone Qatar’s then-CEO Richard Daly said:

“We have spent billions on getting a telecom license in Qatar, but our business is affected by illegal services like VoIP. We know it’s a boon for expatriates but it is illegal. It is time that ictQatar intervened and found ways to stop its use.”

Looking ahead, Vodafone Qatar said it plans to look for new revenue streams as well as differentiate itself to customers through its “international brand and superior network.”

Reacting to the financial news today, Vodafone Qatar’s shares were down 3.57 percent to QR11.09 on the Qatar Exchange.


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