SFR loses 620,000 mobile subscribers in frantic first quarter

15 May 2012

The French media and communications group Vivendi has confirmed that its domestic telco SFR lost 620,000 mobile customers in the first three months of the year, including 274,000 post-paid subscribers. SFR’s cellular customer base dropped to 20.84 million at end-March, down from 21.46 million three months earlier, as a result of increased competition following the launch of new low-cost network operator Free Mobile in mid-January. One bright spot for SFR, however, was that mobile subscriber growth returned in April.

First-quarter revenues at SFR fell 4.2% year-on-year to reach EUR2.93 billion (USD3.77 billion), while mobile service revenues were down 7.0% at EUR1.86 billion, though Vivendi claims this was more to do with regulatory pricing measures than increased competition. Excluding the impact of regulated price cuts, it said, mobile service revenues were almost stable, with a 0.2% decrease.

The company’s fixed broadband segment reported continued customer growth, up 0.8% in twelve months to 4.99 million users, which included 1.4 million customers signed up to its quad-play package of fixed telephony, internet, TV and mobile services.

Meanwhile, a report from Bloomberg, which cites two unnamed sources close to SFR, suggest that Vivendi is looking to reduce operating expenses at the telco by EUR450 million this year through job cuts, a reduction in marketing spending and the renegotiation of contracts with call centres. Vivendi has predicted a drop in earnings of up to 12% in 2012, and the new measures are an attempt to help offset this.

France, SFR, Vivendi