Belgian full-service telecoms operator Proximus has published its financial results for the three months ended 30 June 2020, reporting a 5.9% decline in underlying group revenues to EUR1.330 billion (USD1.568 billion), which it attributed to the reduction in roaming revenues, shop closures and free services offered to customers during the COVID-19 lockdown. Group underlying EBITDA fell 1.5% year-on-year to EUR477 million, while operating expenses declined 8.3% to EUR403 million, with the ‘positive effect of COVID-19’ estimated at EUR13 million. Total CAPEX in the first six months of 2020 fell to EUR418 million, compared with EUR466 million in the comparable period of 2019, mainly driven by delays to customer connections and other programmes during the lockdown.
Across the group as a whole, Proximus ended the reporting period with 2.11 million broadband customers (up from 2.07 million in Q2 2019), 1.65 million TV subscribers (down from 1.63 million) and 2.33 million fixed voice customers (2.48 million at end-June 2019). The company reported a wireless subscriber base of 4.84 million, compared with 4.81 million twelve months earlier, including 45,000 mobile post-paid net additions.
Proximus CEO Guillaume Boutin commented: ‘We contained the negative direct margin impact of COVID-19 on EBITDA level through a firm cost control, and CAPEX was down on less strategic projects while preserving our fibre CAPEX. In view of our achievements so far, we are confident to meet the high-end of our full-year 2020 outlook of EUR780 million-EUR800 million underlying Group EBITDA minus CAPEX.’
Proximus also announced it has signed Memorandums of Understanding with Eurofiber and Delta Fiber with a view to building fibre networks passing two million homes and businesses in the Flanders and Wallonia regions. Subject to the conclusion of final agreements, Proximus will create separate joint ventures with its partners to design, build, maintain and upgrade the networks, which would be open and accessible to wholesale customers under non-exclusive and non-discriminatory terms. As part of its ‘#inspire2022’ strategy presented in March, Proximus is committed to stepping up the pace of its fibre rollout, with the aim of connecting 2.4 million homes by 2025. The company believes these partnerships will enable it to pass up to 4.2 million homes and businesses by the end of 2028, representing fibre coverage of approximately 70%.