French broadband operator and recent winner of the country’s fourth mobile phone licence, Iliad (Free), has reported a 75% rise in net income for full-year 2009, on the back of strong subscriber growth and the up-selling of value added services (VAS) to existing customers. Iliad said net income soared to EUR175.9 million (USD238 million) last year, from EUR100.4 million in 2008, beating a median forecast of EUR173.4 million profit in a poll conducted by Bloomberg. FY2009 revenues topped EUR1.95 billion, up 25% year-on-year. The Paris-based operator is planning to take the fight to its rivals in 2010 and is already predicting ‘very strong growth’ in net income this year.
Iliad is also readying itself for the deployment of its new mobile network with Chief Financial Officer Thomas Reynaud quoted as saying: ‘In 2010, the main challenge is to roll out the implementation of the mobile network.’ Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and Alcatel-Lucent will be principal suppliers in the newcomer’s EUR1 billion network rollout plan, Reynaud said by phone. Iliad intends to cover about 27% of the French population with its mobile service by January 2012, the year it targets for a full commercial launch. Meanwhile, the broadband provider’s Free brand added a net 398,000 new subscribers in 2009 for a year-end total of 4.456 million ADSL users (of which 85.4% were unbundled), while sales derived from VAS (eg video on demand), generated EUR474.7 million in revenue – up 26% year-on-year. Iliad’s Alice France unit, which was acquired from Telecom Italia in August 2008, contributed EUR23.8 million in EBITDA last year, out of a total of EUR661.4 million.