French communications and entertainment group Vivendi reported a 23.7% year-on-year rise in consolidated revenues (22.1% at constant currency) to EUR6.5 billion (USD8.83 billion), as a result of strong performance from the likes of telecoms arm SFR and expected synergies delivered following recent acquisitions. Group EBITDA reached EUR1.4 billion, an increase of 15.8% (13.8% at constant currency) compared to the first quarter of 2008. Vivendi said adjusted net income was EUR649 million, down EUR48 million compared to the first quarter of 2008, mainly due to the increasing interest and share of earnings attributable to minority interests. Nonetheless, the company confirmed its 2009 outlook for strong growth of EBITA.
SFR’s revenues increased to EUR3.028 billion in the three months ended 31 March 2009, up by 31.5% compared to the same period in 2008, due to the consolidation of neuf Cegetel since 15 April 2008. On a comparable basis, SFR’s revenues decreased by 0.8% y-o-y, although excluding the impact of the decrease in switched voice revenues and equipment sales, SFR revenues increased by 1.4%, it said. Mobile turnover generated EUR2.181 billion in sales which Vivendi said was ‘stable’ due to a EUR22 million decrease in equipment sales to EUR77 million. Mobile service revenues, however, rose 1.2% year-on-year to EUR2.104 billion, driven by growth of the customer base and a sharp (36%) rise in data revenues following the launch of unlimited SMS and MMS offers, and strong development of mobile internet services in the mass market and enterprise segments. SFR added 118,000 net new mobile customers in January-March, equivalent to 51% of net additions in the period. Furthermore, SFR reported an improvement in its customer mix (+3.5 percentage points year-on-year to 69.6%), adding 178,000 new post-paid customers in the period to achieve 13.76 million contract customers at the end of March 2009. SFR launched the iPhone on 8 April, and says it has already sold 120,000 handsets.
SFR (including neuf Cegetel) reported broadband internet and fixed revenues of EUR934 million in 1Q09, down 2.7% compared to the same period in 2008 on a comparable basis. Broadband internet and fixed revenues increased by 2.3%, excluding the impact of the decrease in switched voice revenues. Aided by the launch of the ‘neufbox by SFR’, SFR added 163,000 net new broadband internet active customers in the period (or >30% of all quarterly net additions). At the end of March 2009 SFR’s broadband subscriber base totalled 4.042 million, up 9.3% compared to the same period in 2008. In addition, SFR had 164,000 Enterprise data links connected to the SFR network, 10.1% higher than a year earlier. SFR’s broadband internet and fixed EBITDA, including neuf Cegetel’s operations since 15 April 2008, decreased by EUR19 million on a comparable basis to EUR133 million.
Ukrainian wireless network operator life:) has published its results for the three months ended 31 March 2009, showing an annual 22.3% increase in subscribers to 11.5 million. Of the total, 8 million were deemed by the operator to be ‘active’, having made or received a call/SMS in the last three months. Revenues in the first quarter of 2009 were USD79.1 million, a 12.3% decrease compared to the same period of 2008. EBITDA was USD3.6 million, compared to USD2.1 million in the same period of 2008, while net losses were USD24.4 million, down from a loss of USD32.4 million in Q1 2008. General director of life:) Tansu Yegen said: ‘The first quarter of 2009 has been very challenging for the economy of Ukraine with the worsening macroeconomic situation seriously effecting the business. The national currency depreciated by around 52% against the US dollar as of 31 March 2009 compared to a year ago, although remained stable compared to the previous quarter.’
State-owned Indian telco Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has announced a deal with French-US hardware vendor Alcatel-Lucent that will see that latter provide its mobile next generation (NGN) solution. The deployment is a part of a multi-year agreement under which Alcatel-Lucent is providing an end-to-end GSM/EDGE solution to MTNL. Alcatel claims that its NGN product, which is based on a secure, distributed architecture, will allow MTNL to optimize and simplify its mobile network, flexibly address traffic growth, reduce operation costs and simplify network maintenance.
As part of the announcement MTNL announced that its 3G network had been launched in Mumbai, and said it was ready to offer service to both residential and enterprise customers. MTNL was the first operator to launch commercial 3G services in India in February 2009; the telco offers the service under the ‘Jadoo’ brand and it was initially available only in central areas of Delhi.
Uruguayan state-owned telecoms operator Antel has announced its mobile unit Ancel has reached 1.5 million subscribers. Ancel is closing the gap between itself and rival cellco America Movil-owned Claro Uruguay, which had 1.459 million wireless subscribers at 31 March 2009. Ancel launched a GSM-1800 network including GPRS in Montevideo April 2004, with an EDGE upgrade initiated in the following October. Ancel first trialled 3G services in September 2005, in partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei. 3.5G services were launched in July 2007 in Montevideo and a year later its 3G network was available nationwide. Ancel plans to invest USD81 million in 2009, mainly to expand its GSM and 3G coverage.
Indian cellco Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL) has announced that it has inked a seven-year deal with China’s ZTE for the provision of network equipment and infrastructure. Under the agreement ZTE will provide wireless and core network equipment for SSTL as the cellco looks to complete its pan-India rollout by 3Q 2010. Additionally, the two companies will ‘explore other collaborative possibilities going forward’. No financial details of the deal have been disclosed. SSTL has launched commercial CDMA-based services in the Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala circles.
Mobilkom Macedonia (VIP Mobile) doubled its revenues in the first quarter of this year, according to the financial report published by its parent Telekom Austria. In the three months under review VIP Mobile reported revenues of EUR3.9 million (USD5.3 million), compared with EUR1.8 million in the same time period last year. The strong rise was attributed to ‘high subscription fees’ as well as a significant increase in the number of customers on its books. Nevertheless, the company posted a net pre-tax loss of EUR4.3 million in the first three months of 2009, down from a loss of EUR6 million in the same time period last year. VIP Mobile, the third largest mobile operator in the Republic of Macedonia by subscribers, had 213,000 customers by 31 March 2009, compared to 163,300 customers a year earlier. The number of subscribers has declined from 242,000 at the end of December 2008 however, as a result of the firm removing inactive customers from its base.