At Etisalat’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held at the company’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, shareholders have backed the board’s recommendation to pay full-year 2018 dividends of 80fils per share and approved the proposal of lifting restrictions on foreign shareholders voting rights.
Etisalat Group consolidated revenues reached AED 52.4 billion while consolidated net profit after Federal Royalty reached AED 8.6 billion an increase of 2.4% compared to the same period last year.
At the AGM, Eissa Mohamed Al-Suwaidi, Chairman, Etisalat Group said: “Our journey in 2018 marks another successful year for Etisalat in realizing its vision towards driving the digital future to empower societies. As a group, we focused on strengthening our core business, expanding and enriching our digital portfolio, and diversifying into new growth opportunities. We have increased the effort on transforming Etisalat into an agile and more efficient company.
“With the emergence of the digital era, there have been dynamic changes and rapid developments in the global telecom sector. Etisalat maintained its leadership position as it continued to transition to a digital organization both internally and externally. Our operating companies worked in line with the overall strategy and managed to enhance synergy at group level, progressed with our digital vision and elevated competitiveness in their respective markets.
He highlighted: “Etisalat Group continued to achieve strong financial performance and maintained its high credit rating reflecting its efforts to provide value to shareholders, which was the drive behind proposing a final dividend of AED 0.4 per share, bringing the total dividends for the year to AED 0. 8 0, which in line with our policy in previous years. This represents a dividend yield of 4.7% and dividends payout ratio of around 81%. In addition, the company enhanced its corporate governance by recommending lifting of restrictions on voting rights of foreign shareholders.
“Etisalat’s infrastructure is built to enable digital transformation, to nurture innovation, and to provide superb customer experience, it is a competitive edge that will remain a strategic priority at group level. Our mobile and fixed networks in majority of operating markets are amongst the best within their local markets or surpassed their geographical boundaries and led at global scale. For UAE as an example, Etisalat have the widest LTE coverage globally and among the global leaders when it comes to fiber network penetration.
“We are honored to be the trusted partner of governments in many national and strategic projects, and we are proud that our network investments and initiatives are supporting the countrywide telecom infrastructure indexes in markets that we operate in. For UAE, we have partnered with concerned governmental entities to fulfill our leadership ICT vision through dedicated initiatives that enhance penetration and coverage of key services. Ultimately, the integration of efforts has ranked UAE as number 2 in Telecom Infrastructure Index (TII) in 2018 as opposed to 25 in 2016.
He emphasized: “As Etisalat continues its journey, it allows new opportunities with every generation of technology that it adopts. Etisalat envisions 5G as a stepping-stone to unlimited potential, a technology that will enable new use cases, widen possibilities, and enhance value creation. Hence, we were the first to launch the first commercial 5G network in UAE and the region achieving another technological milestone for the company. The fifth generation of the network will fuel digital transformation, IoT, smart cities and the fourth industrial evolution.
“Etisalat was ranked as the most valuable brand portfolio in MENA for the 3rd consecutive year, a testimonial of its power and a translation of its sincere efforts to provide customers with great service, compelling offers, and value for money. Etisalat Group was the first Middle East based company to break the $10 billion barrier in terms of wider portfolio value.
He added: “Our geographic footprint today continues to present substantial opportunities and at the same time, some challenges. Etisalat has always seen beyond the obstacles and acted diligently to protect the long-term interests of its shareholders by optimizing and maintaining a healthy business portfolio and continue to seek good opportunities to grow as a company.
“Today, we look at the future with confidence and optimism as we are determined to progress on solid grounds and continue innovation while focusing on driving the digital transformation to take advantage of future opportunities that will enable us to add greater value to our customers and shareholders.
“I would like to thank the leadership of UAE, President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces for their continued support to Etisalat Group and the telecom sector.
In addition, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our customers for their steady confidence and our shareholders for their continued support and special thanks to Etisalat management team for their commitment and dedicated work that will drive us to move forward and continue our success.”
Eng. Saleh Abdullah Al Abdooli, GCEO, Etisalat Group said: “Etisalat Group made further progress this year in its efforts to lead in the digital space, to transform its operating model, and to enhance value and returns to customers and shareholders. 2018 was rich with accomplishments that will enhance the ability to achieve our vision as a Group, which is to drive the digital future to empower societies.
“Portfolio optimization was a main thrust in 2018, we managed to sustain positive momentum across key international operations while retaining operations that assure synergy and value creation to the group as a whole. Our portfolio is the most valuable brand in MENA and the first and only brand to surpass the USD 10 bn, a great feat that puts Etisalat head to head with global renowned brands and ahead of many key regional brands.
He underlined: “Currently, Etisalat’s portfolio spans over 15 countries while serving over 141 million customers. The technology that we provide and enable, brings individuals and societies closer at a local and global level, such firm belief was the drive behind launching our new brand direction “Together Matter” which embodies the power of technology in connecting and enriching people’s lives.
“In 2018 we have delivered a solid financial performance with consolidated revenues at AED 52.4 billion and consolidated net profit at AED 8.6 billion, representing 2.4% YoY growth which is an outstanding outcome considering the stagnant global economy and some operating companies’ specific challenges pertaining to currency devaluation, geopolitical instability, and elevated competitive and regulatory pressures.
“Etisalat is keen on staying ahead when it comes to next generation technologies, our investment in the future has enabled us to achieve the first 5G commercial launch in MENA with EXPO 2020 as the first business customer. This achievement will redefine connectivity and support the full-fledged adoption of the Internet of things. As an industry leader, we have a role in driving change and expanding the telecommunication ecosystem, we are building a platform for the future, which will materialize the next generation of immersive experiences and power the digital economy.
“2018 has also witnessed the launch of e-SIM features for Apple watches, in which Etisalat UAE was the first MENA Telecom operator to offer such service. While on a parallel track, we have affirmed our position as the preferred IoT provider with key projects like “Hassantuk”, which is a landmark partnership with UAE’s Ministry of Interior to deliver the first Smart Fire Alarm solution in the region.
He highlighted: “The launch of “Future Now” was another key milestone in 2018. The program encompasses under one consolidated umbrella the innovation center, the co-creation lab, the scale-ups program, and the IoT partnerships program, all of which introduce new ways of innovating and collaborating, while aiming in essence to spur innovation in the surrounding ecosystem, hence forming a fertile setting for digital transformation. Innovation will always be a key strategic imperative for Etisalat and one of the key attributes that is associated to its brand in all markets.
“Building on our technological advanced position, delivering a superior and differentiated customer experiences is paramount. We will continue expanding mobile coverage across the footprint and investing in fixed network, cloud, and data centers. Our infrastructure is a hub for massive amounts of voice and data traffic, and is resilient enough to accommodate the upcoming surge in requirements, an adaptive and reliable network that serves customers of all types, while empowering customers through smart digital interfaces and self-care channels.
He added: “Building on our success in 2018, we will continue our digital transformation journey across the group while pursuing multiple other critical-mission objectives. Growth remains a dominant priority that is driven by a rising digital and various new revenue streams. Driving efficiency through internal digitization and by optimizing portfolio-wide pockets of potential synergy and value creation is also a priority. Etisalat Group will always be the trusted partner for governments and enterprises, the preferred telecom provider for consumers, and the transformation engine for societies where it operates.
“Lastly, I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the leadership of the UAE, for their enduring support and for being a role model in ambition, dedication, and hard work, driving us to aim higher and allowing us as individuals and businesses to extend our global reach and widen our horizon. Moreover, I am thankful to our loyal customers and shareholders who inspire us to innovate and push boundaries, and to our employees who are the cornerstone of our success and the foundation of our future.”