Saudi Telecom Company’s (STC’s) profit rose 54 per cent year-on-year to SR2.39bn ($640m) in the first quarter of 2014.

STC’s profit soared after its decision to minimise losses from foreign units, which in the first quarter of last year included an SR287m loss by its Indonesian subsidiary Axis and an SR500m impairment by Indian unit Aircel.

Axis was sold at the end of 2013, followed by the operator’s decision in January to exclude Aircel’s losses from its financial results.

STC’s revenues from services decreased 6 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014, totalling SR10.78bn. Earnings before interest, taxes, zakat, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) amounted to SR4.29bn compared to SR3.83bn during the same period last year, an increase of 12 per cent.

“We continue to maintain an acute focus on reinforcing our presence in our home market. At the same time, we continue to rationalise STC international portfolio, and evaluate options for some of these investments in order to take appropriate actions in the best interest of the shareholders,” says Abdulaziz Alsugair, chairman and managing director of STC.

The company has plans to strengthen its presence in Saudi Arabia as it continues to face competition from rivals Mobily and Zain Saudi Arabia. STC is enhancing the coverage of its 3G and 3.5G networks so it can provide services to more than 96 per cent of residential areas and is also deploying a 4G network across the kingdom.