Belgacom, Belgium’s dominant telecoms operator, will take full control of its wireless subsidiary Belgacom Mobile, which offers services under the brand name Proximus, after agreeing to buy Vodafone’s 25% stake in the operator for EUR2 billion (USD2.55 billion). The two companies will continue to co-operate in various areas, including handset and network purchasing, multinational customers, international roaming and Belgacom’s use of the Vodafone live! mobile web portal and other Vodafone products and services. The transaction is subject to approval by the country’s competition authorities.
The acquisition announcement was made as Belgacom released its full report for the first half of 2006. Belgacom Mobile ended June 2006 with 2.253 million active customers, up 0.9% year-on-year, of which 56.6% were pre-paid. Blended ARPU fell 1% y-o-y to EUR40.7. Belgacom, meanwhile, ended June with 4.276 million residential and 969,000 business fixed line access channels, of which 922,000 and 135,000 were DSL respectively. At that date 73,000 customers had signed up to IPTV services. On Monday, Belgacom released its top-line financials for the period earlier than planned after a briefcase containing a draft of the press release was stolen. The group posted a net loss of EUR434 million for the first half of 2006, mainly due to the disposal of consolidated entities and other participating interests and higher depreciation and amortization expenses related to IPTV services and the acquisition of Telindus. Group revenue increased 2.9% to EUR3.03 billion.