Orange and Wanadoo help bolster otherwise flat returns from FT

29 Jul 2003

France Télécom [Paris: FTE.PA] has announced revenues of EUR11.48 billion for the second quarter of 2003, a fall of 3.3% over the corresponding period of 2002. The operator blamed the decline on the negative effect of exchange rates, as well as charges related to its recent disposal of two major subsidiaries – transmission masts business TDF, which was sold in December 2002, and Dutch cable operator Casema, which was offloaded the following month. On a comparable basis, France Télécom claims its revenues were up 4.4% over the year earlier period, buoyed by stemmed losses at its domestic fixed line unit and sustained growth at Orange and Wanadoo, its respective mobile and broadband internet arms. The company’s French fixed line operations generated revenues of EUR4.42 billion in the three months to the end of June, down from 4.64 million in the second quarter of 2002, but only 2% down on first quarter income; this marks something of an upturn in fortunes as France Télécom’s domestic wireline revenues had fallen by 7.5% and 4.8% in the previous two quarters. The telco said it had managed to slow down erosion in the local telephony segment, whilst its long-distance market share had stabilised. At the end of June France Télécom had 77.8% of the French local call market, down from 79.1% in March 2003, whilst its share of the long-distance sector remained constant at 63.3%.

Revenues from mobile subsidiary Orange reached EUR4.27 billion in the second quarter, up 7.2% year-on-year. Orange France contributed EUR1.84 billion of the total, up from EUR1.71 billion, with Orange UK adding EUR1.42 billion, down from EUR1.46 billion. Turnover from the Group’s operations in other countries rose by a quarter to EUR1.01 billion. At the end of June 2003 Orange claimed 45.6 million customers worldwide, of which 19.37 million were connected to its domestic network, up from 18.63 million twelve months previously. Despite having to introduce a 15% decrease in termination rates for calls from fixed line operators from January 2003, Orange France said a 8% increase over June 2002 levels in traffic per customer meant its domestic average revenue per user (ARPU) figure, which had been falling steadily for more than a year, rose by 1.4% thanks to a 26.7% increase in ARPU generated by non-voice services. At the end of June 2003 Orange had 13.26 million UK customers, up 3.6% over the year, and 13 million subscribers across its operations elsewhere around the globe.

France Télécom’s pan-European broadband internet subsidiary Wanadoo registered revenues of EUR630 million for the second quarter of 2003, up 32% on mid-2002 levels, thanks to a steep rise in ADSL connections. Wanadoo claimed 8.8 million active customers at the end of June 2003, of whom 1.82 million were broadband subscribers, up from 833,000 twelve months previously. Wanadoo France claimed 4.23 million customers, of which 1.39 million were taking ADSL; 154,000 French ADSL customers were added in the second quarter, down from 196,000 in the previous three months. Wanadoo’s UK subsidiary Freeserve had 91,000 ADSL customers at 30 June 2003, compared to 15,000 a year earlier.

France