ForthNet's losses grow despite LLU progress; GO books EUR3.2m pre-tax loss

17 Mar 2010

Greek telecoms and pay-TV operator Forthnet has posted a 72.8% increase in consolidated revenues to EUR377.0 million (USD517 million) in 2009, rising from EUR218.2 million 2008. Reported EBITDA for the group increased ten-fold from EUR6.5 million in 2008 to EU64.0 million, although annual net losses rose slightly, from EUR40.9 million to EUR41.2 million. For the twelve-month period ForthNet’s telecoms division reported revenues of EUR176.6 million, representing a 21.1% increase over the previous year, and posted positive EBITDA of EUR18.3 million, but a net loss of EUR14.6 million. Services based on local loop unbundling (LLU) remained the key telecoms growth driver for the group, and in the fourth quarter of 2009 ForthNet added 41,694 net new LLU customers (including those migrating from its resale services) for a total of 315,533, which it claimed gave it a 32% share of the Greek LLU market. Overall, it added 30,692 net new broadband subscribers in Q4 2009 for a total of 364,419. In late August 2009 the telco’s first bundles of telecoms and pay-TV services (from DTT unit Nova) were offered to new and existing customers.

ForthNet’s largest shareholder is Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT), via Cypriot-registered holding company Forgendo, whose shares are held 50/50 between EIT (Malta) and the latter’s majority-owned Maltese telco GO (formerly Maltacom). GO reported a pre-tax loss of EUR3.2 million for full-year 2009, following a net profit of EUR300,000 in 2008, while its operating profit reached EUR7.4 million as against EUR13.3 million in 2008. The Maltese firm, which includes cellular operator GO Mobile, said that while its number of customer connections increased significantly in 2009 and amounted to just under 480,000, up by 22,000 from end-2008, it suffered a 4.5% year-on-year decline in revenues to EUR123.7 million. GO also said its 2009 results were negatively affected by the group’s share of the results of ForthNet, whilst profitability was hit by various one-time charges including voluntary retirement settlements, impairment loss on receivables and release of financial liabilities. Furthermore, in 2009 GO pursued a restructuring programme at a cost of EUR11.5 million.

Greece, Malta, Forthnet (Nova), GO