Posts filed under ‘France’
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.
French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom posted a 6% increase in sales for the three months to 31 March 2009 on the back of solid subscriber growth. Sales from network services grew 5% year-on-year to EUR1.175 billion (USD1.603 billion), including a EUR9 million contribution from its fixed line business, it said. Bouygues added a net 144,000 new mobile customers in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 51,000 in the first quarter of 2008. As at 31 March 2009, Bouygues Telecom’s cellular user base totalled 9.739 million, of which 7.348 million were on post-paid contracts — 75.5% of the total customer base — a year-on-year increase of 1.7 percentage points.
French state secretary for industry Luc Chatel told the National Assembly that the first 5 MHz lot to be allocated to the fourth mobile network operator would cost EUR 206 million. This is one third of the EUR 619 million paid by the country’s existing mobile operators for their 15 MHz of spectrum. Free, the triple-play operator likely to become the country’s fourth mobile network operator, was prepared to pay EUR 210 million, CEO Xavier Niel told Le Figaro. Free may also bid for the remaining two lots of 5 MHz of spectrum alongside its competitors in a second tender. The first 5 MHz are due to be tendered at the end of February or early March, according to regulatory chairman Jean-Claude Mallet. Separately, France’s recently appointed secretary for the development of the digital economy, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, suggested to the National Assembly setting up a conference to respond to consumers’ increasing concerns about the possible dangers of exposure to radio waves. The round table would bring together legislators, operators and scientists, she said.
The French courts have ruled that Orange France must relinquish its exclusive rights to sell the Apple iPhone in France, upholding an earlier ruling by the country’s anti-competition authorities. On 17 December 2008 the competition watchdog effectively tore up the exclusivity contract when it ordered Orange France and Apple to suspend the deal they brokered which allowed the mobile operator to control the sale of the much-hyped Apple device in the country. The Competition Council’s ruling followed a complaint filed by Bouygues Telecom which argued the exclusivity deal breached local competition laws. A spokesman for Orange has told AFP it would seek to overturn the ruling before France’s high court of appeal, the Cour de Cassation.
The retail chain Carrefour has announced plans to work with a number of French mobile operators to begin trials of Near Field Communications (NFC) m-payments trials in the country by December 2009. Carrefour says the trial will allow customers of Orange, SFR and Bouygues to make secure mobile contactless payments via a version of its MasterCard loyalty card, known as Pass. The mobile payments can be redeemed as mobile coupons and will effectively replace their existing store cards.
The French MVNO collective Libre Choix, which brings together a number of companies including Poweo, Altergaz, ipnotica Telecom, Gaz de Paris, Adrexo and Tele2 Mobile, has suggested the government should consult with MVNOs before it considers awarding the country’s fourth and final 3G licence. The group is keen to see the licence go to a new market entrant, saying such a move ‘would be the opportunity of a real market opening today locked by the oligopoly of the three incumbents’. Libre Choix believes that if a fourth operator is given free reign to enter the sector, ‘real competition’ will follow in the short term via MVNOs. Although Libre Choix welcomes the government’s willingness to accelerate the implementation of measures [i.e. awarding the fourth licence] to help revive the French economy, it stresses that splitting the frequency blocks on offer among the existing incumbents would not materially help achieve this goal.