Hutchison Telecom Australia (HTAL) has posted a net loss of AUD131.3 million (USD136 million) for the six months ended 30 June 2012 from its share in Australian mobile network operator Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA). Meanwhile, HTAL’s share of VHA’s total turnover fell by 9% year-on-year to AUD1.035 billion, with its share of the cellco’s service revenue also falling, by 15.8% y-o-y to AUD874.9 million. HTAL’s slice of VHA’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) stood at AUD112 million, representing a drop of more than 20% against the same period a year earlier.
In operational terms, during the first six months of 2012 VHA saw its customers base fall by 178,000 to 6.844 million, with post-paid subscriber numbers, which represent around two-thirds of the total, falling slightly to 4.211 million from 4.244 million. Pre-paid customer numbers meanwhile fell from 2.778 million to 2.633 million.
Despite the customer decline, in a press release detailing the financial results, HTAL claimed that ‘VHA’s investment in [its] network is starting to deliver positive momentum and the renewed focus on customer service has contributed to improvements in customer retention’. Highlighting the work done on the infrastructure, HTAL noted that its share of VHA’s capital expenditure had increased by 22.4% year-on-year to AUD198.4 million. The investment, it is claimed, has ensured that VHA is ‘making good progress in improving network coverage, capacity, speed and reliability,’ while, having spent more than AUD1 billion on the network, VHA has reportedly made good progress with the first phase of rolling out a new 3G 850MHz network, as well with a national network equipment replacement programme and the installation of new IP-enabled transmission equipment.
Commenting on the results VHA chief executive officer Bill Morrow said: ‘These results speak very clearly to a need to refocus on the quality and consistency of the experience we deliver to our customers … Our customers can expect to experience improvements in the network and customer service throughout the remainder of 2012, and we will make further announcements on our 4G (LTE) plans for next year.’ Canning Fok, chairman of HTAL, meanwhile noted: ‘Bill Morrow and VHA have our full support, and despite the operating challenges currently facing the business, we believe the strategy being implemented will return VHA to growth in the future. However, we expect the next twelve months to remain challenging.’