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Saudi's Mobily third-quarter profit beats forecast

RIYADH (Reuters) - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Saudi Arabia's No.2 telecom operator, beat forecasts with an 11.7 percent rise in third-quarter net profit on Tuesday, as revenue from corporate and wholesale customers grew.

Mobily, an affiliate of the United Arab Emirates' Etisalat, made a third-quarter net profit of 1.69 billion riyals, up from 1.51 billion riyals in the prior-year period.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast Mobily, which competes with Saudi Telecom Co and Zain Saudi, would make a quarterly profit of 1.65 billion riyals.

Mobily's revenue for the three months to September 30 was 6.45 billion riyals, up from 6.18 billion in the prior-year period.

The firm plans to buy a stake in loss-making fixed line operator Etihad Atheeb, a move seen as helping it offer service bundles that include voice, data and television services.

Saudi operators have focused on data and combined services to help offset slumping conventional call margins, which are under pressure due to the surging popularity of substitute services such as Internet-based phone calls and instant messaging.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall and Matt Smith; Editing by Mark Potter)