Vivendi reports strong Q1 earnings, SFR’s revenues and EBITDA down

16 May 2007

Media, telecoms and entertainment conglomerate Vivendi Universal today reported Q1 net income of USD1.04 billion, a 22.8% rise on the corresponding period of 2006. Revenues were up 5.3% at USD6.7 billion and EBITDA was USD1.76 billion (21.7%). The company attributed its positive results to three of its operating units: pay-TV operator Canal, its games division and Moroccan telco Maroc Télécom. Other units such as Universal Music Group and French mobile operator SFR (Société Française de Radiotéléphone) did not perform so well.

SFR’s Q12007 revenues decreased by 1.8% to USD2.83 billion and network mobile revenues were down marginally (0.9%) at USD2.71 billion. EBITDA decreased by 3.5% to USD871.6 million, as a result of rising depreciation costs relating to investments in its mobile network in recent years. The operator said that the gains made in voice and data usage, as a result of strong subscriber uptake, were offset by the 21% cut in mobile voice termination rates imposed by the French telecoms regulator Arcep from 1 January 2007, and a 30% cut in SMS rates ushered in last September. SFR said that ARPU decreased by 6% to USD609 at the end of March 2007 (compared with USD649 at the end of March 2006). Excluding the impacts of the tariff cuts, network mobile revenues would have risen 2.6% year-on-year. Nonetheless, SFR ended March with 17.91 million mobile users, a net gain of 27,000 in the quarter, of which 11.708 million were post-paid users (up 6.1% y-o-y). The number of people taking 3G services climbed to 3.133 million, up from 2.686 million at 31 December 2006. Average monthly voice usage (AUPU) rose by 5.5% to 326 minutes.

Vivendi’s 51%-owned Moroccan unit Maroc Telecom reported a 13.9% rise in first quarter revenues to USD745.5 million compared to the same period last year. EBITDA increased by 20.2% to USD347 million, driven by strong revenue growth and rising uptake of internet and mobile users. Mobile revenue grew by 22.3% year-on-year to USD506.9 million, despite intense competition in the local market. At the end of March 2007 the telco had 11.372 million mobile customers (+32.6% y-o-y) thanks to the net addition of 665,000 customers in the period under review. On a less positive note, churn increased by 8.4% to 23.7%, and blended monthly ARPU was USD12.87, down 6% on Q12006. Maroc said that fixed line and internet revenues grew by 0.3% to USD318.5 million, with the fixed line unit adding 5,000 connections in the quarter to boost its total to 1.271 million lines – the total was however, down 4.9% on end-March 2006. The operator’s ADSL customer base experienced strong growth on the back of a heavy advertising campaign in Q1. Maroc counted 418,000 ADSL connections at the start of April, up 34,000 on the previous quarter.

France, Maroc Telecom (IAM), SFR