The United Arab Emirates’ telecommunications company Etisalat increased profit by $224 million (AED821 million) to $2.8 billion (AED10.3 billion) in 2020, according to results posted to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange on Tuesday.
Etisalat, of which 40 percent has been publicly traded since 1983, saw total revenue fall by $130 million (AED478 million) to $14 billion (AED51.7 billion) in that time.
The company paid a $3.6 billion (AED13.3 billion) ‘Federal Royalty’ fee comprising around 30 percent of its operating profit plus 15 percent of revenue. This fee has historically gone towards both the government and the Sheikh Zayed Housing Program, which provides subsidized housing for Emirati citizens.
“Despite the unprecedented global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Etisalat demonstrated robust financial performance, driven by our bold vision to constantly innovate while ensuring that communities we serve remain connected, informed and productive,” group chairman Obaid Humaid Al Tayer told official news agency WAM.
The group’s board of directors proposed a dividend payout for shareholders of $0.11 (AED0.40) per share for the second half of 2020, and proposed cancellation of the share buyback program suggesting instead a one-time special dividend of $0.11 (AED0.40) per share, bringing the total dividend for the year to AED1.20 per share.
“We engaged heavily with governments and authorities while supporting the community with innovative offerings and free initiatives that assisted students, organizations, and societies as a whole,” Al Tayer added.
“During the year, revenue and net profit growth were witnessed in our international markets while the domestic market experienced a decline in both due to the pandemic and market maturity.”
Etisalat was founded in the UAE in 1976 and has since branched out to Middle Eastern and Asian countries including India, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.