DT to continue asset sales despite strong subscriber growth

29 Jan 2003

German giant Deutsche Telekom [NYSE: DT] has released subscriber figures for the end of 2002, reporting strong growth in its mobile, broadband and T-Online divisions. The group had a total of almost 82 million mobile customers through affiliates at the end of last year, an increase of more than 25% over twelve months, while the number of customers for all majority-owned subsidiaries and associates of Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile International increased by 16.5 million to 81.7 million. The principal drivers of growth were T-Mobile USA – which saw its customer base increase by 41% to 9.9 million, 86% of whom are contract subscribers, up from 74% a year ago – and T-Mobile in Europe. The group’s domestic division had 24.6 million customers at the end of December, having added 1.5 million users during the year, including 783,000 in the fourth quarter alone. T-Mobile UK signed up two million new subscribers in 2002, to take its total to 12.4 million, while T-Mobile CZ added 600,000, increasing its base to 3.5 million. T-Mobile Austria saw its customer base fall slightly, from 2.1 million to two million, although the company attributed this to a restructuring exercise carried out during the year. Dutch cellco Ben, which had over 1.4 million subscribers, up from 1.2 million, is set to be rebranded T-Mobile NL in the first quarter of this year.

Fixed telephone lines for the group, including ISDN channels, stood at 57.5 million, compared with 56.9 million a year earlier, with ISDN accounting for much of the growth; according to the company’s T-ISDN unit, there were 22.4 million ISDN channels in use in Germany, up from 20.4 million, while the number of analogue lines decreased, although it did not provide figures for the latter. By the end of 2002 Deutsche Telekom had sold over 3.1 million T-DSL lines, an increase of 41% year-on-year. T-Online’s customer base reached 12.2 million at the end of last month, having added 1.5 million new users in 2002; 2.2 million of the total are customers of foreign affiliates.

Despite these positive figures and the news that it all but finalised the sale of its cable operations for EUR1.725 billion in cash, Deutsche Telekom still aims to raise EUR6.5 billion-EUR8.5 billion from the sale of assets by the end of this year. The company has said that in order to reach the lower end of its disposal target range it will increase the number of divestments required. Deutsche Telekom aims to cut net debt from EUR64 billion to between EUR49.5 billion and EUR52.3 billion by 2004.