Orascom reports DPRK profits

According to Yonhap:

Egypt-based mobile operator Orascom Telecom earned US$312,000 in first-quarter sales this year from its mobile service in North Korea on surging demand among the communist nation’s upper class, a company press release said Thursday.

More than 19,200 people have signed up for Orascom’s mobile phone service as of March since it began with 5,300 subscribers last December, according to the firm’s report on its first quarter earnings in 2009.

Martyn Williams offers some additional details which could call the venture’s profitability into question:

The network generated modest earnings of US$312,000 for its operators in the first quarter, before accounting for interest payments, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Orascom did not disclose whether the network made a profit or a loss for the period.

Koryolink achieved the EBIDTA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) results on consolidated sales of US$4.4 million, said Egypt’s Orascom. The company holds a 75 percent stake in the network operator, which is called Cheo Technology but uses the Koryolink brand name. State-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications holds the remaining 25 percent.

Martyn also gives us some Koryolink prices:

The handsets, which are localized versions of Chinese models, cost between US$400 and $600 and the cheapest subscription costs 850 North Korean won per month.

That works out to about US$6 at the official exchange rate, but about 24 cents at the current black market rate used by many citizens and traders. Calls on this tariff are charged at 10.2 won per minute. The most expensive calling package costs 2,550 won per month and call rates are 6.8 won per minute.

Cheo offers service through a single retail shop in Pyongyang but opened a second temporary outlet during a March sales promotion. The promotion, available during the final two weeks of the quarter, offered lower price handsets, cheaper calling packages and free minutes. As a result, sales in March increased by 138 percent over February, said Orascom.

Read previous Orascom posts here

On a similar note, Kim Jong il’s English language translator was named ambassador to Egypt.

Read more here:
Egypt’s Orascom reports profit from N. Korean mobile service
Kim Eun-jung

North Korean 3G network hits 19,000 subscribers
Martyn Williams


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