Nordic telecoms heavyweight TeliaSonera’s consolidated net sales in the first quarter of 2009 increased by 11.5% year-on-year to SEK27.204 billion (USD3.248 billion), up from SEK24.398 billion in 1Q 2008, helping to drive net income up 1% to SEK5.018 billion from SEK4.992 a year earlier. In the three months ended 31 March 2009, EBITDA, excluding non-recurring items, increased 13.7% year-on-year to SEK8.821 billion, raising the EBITDA margin to 32.4% (31.8%), and operating income, excluding one-offs, rose 10.8% to SEK7.477 billion (SEK6.750 billion). Net sales in local currencies and excluding acquisitions are expected to be around the same level in full-year 2009 compared to 2008 (revised from a previous growth prediction in the Q4 2008 report). During 1Q 2009 the number of fixed line, mobile and broadband subscriptions grew by more than 2.2 million quarter-on-quarter, whereof 900,000 net new subscriptions to majority-owned operators and over 1.3 million to associated operators, to reach 137.0 million in total at end-March. Total subscribers rose by 17.7 million from the end of the first quarter 2008, including 6.9 million additions to fully consolidated operations to reach a total of 44.3 million, and an additional 10.8 million net sign-ups to associated companies to give a total of 92.7 million.
At TeliaSonera’s Mobility Services division, net revenues rose 9.2% year-on-year in January-March 2009 to SEK12.578 billion (SEK11.519 billion), and the number of customers rose by 1.3 million from 1Q 2008 to 16.1 million, with increases in all markets. Growth was strongest in Spain with 3G subsidiary Yoigo increasing its user base by 541,000 to 1.1 million despite the elimination of more than 100,000 inactive subscriptions in early 2009. Sweden followed with 478,000 new subscriptions, and Finland with 173,000. In January TeliaSonera announced a plan to build 4G mobile networks in Stockholm, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway. Ericsson was chosen to deliver the initial network in Stockholm and Huawei in Oslo, whilst the evaluation of suppliers for 4G networks in other parts of the Nordic and Baltic regions is in progress.
TeliaSonera’s Eurasia division saw first-quarter net revenues climb 37.7% year-on-year to SEK3.741 billion (SEK2.717 billion) with higher reported sales in all markets. The acquisition of operations in Nepal and Cambodia, consolidated in the fourth quarter 2008, contributed to the rise. In Uzbekistan, sales more than tripled and in Tajikistan they almost doubled. Total subscribers rose by 5.9 million, or 44.1% from end-March 2008, to 19.2 million, including 2.0 million subscriptions in Nepal and Cambodia. Subscriber growth excluding acquisitions was 29.3%, with the largest increase in Uzbekistan, mainly driven by a successful rebranding that helped grow the user base by 2.1 million. Quarter-on-quarter total mobile customers in Eurasia rose by over 800,000 million.
In the group’s Broadband Services unit, net sales increased 5.0% y-o-y to SEK10.964 billion (SEK10.446 billion) with higher reported turnover in all markets except Sweden. Sales of IP-based services increased 16% in local currencies and now represent one third of Broadband Services’ total revenues. The number of broadband lines in service reached 2.30 million at end-March 2009, an increase of 84,000 from the first quarter 2008 and 16,000 from year-end 2008. The total number of TV subscriptions rose by 100,000 from 1Q 2008 to 688,000, of which 509,000 were IPTV subscriptions, up 102,000. More than 20% of TeliaSonera’s broadband customers now also subscribe to TV services. The total number of IPTV subscriptions increased by 32,000 during the quarter, of which 9,000 were in Sweden.