China Mobile Ltd., the world's biggest phone carrier by subscribers, said Thursday its 2009 profit rose 2.3 percent over a year earlier and warned it faces growing competition.
Profit for the year ending Dec. 31 was 115.2 billion yuan ($16.9 million) as customer numbers rose 14.2 percent to 522 million, the Beijing-based company announced. Revenues rose 9.8 percent to 452.1 billion yuan ($66.2 billion).
Profit growth was down sharply from double digit rises in previous years as China Mobile faced stronger competition following a government-led industry restructuring last year.
China Mobile faces "fresh challenges" to its development from the global slowdown, the growing saturation of its market and the expected emergence of systems that combine phone, Internet and television services, said chairman and CEO Wang Jianzhou in a statement.
The government restructured its state-owned phone industry into three groups, each with a mobile service, to revive competition after China Mobile grew to become China's dominant carrier on the popularity of mobile service.
China Mobile and other carriers are adding new services to drive profit growth as explosive growth in demand slows.
China Mobile said the contribution of such services to revenues rose in 2009, including more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) from a new mobile music service.
The company said last week it was paying 39.8 billion yuan ($5.8 billion) for a 20 percent stake in midsize Chinese lender Shanghai Pudong Development Bank as part of a plan to develop mobile banking and other services.
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