In today's EMEA regional roundup: Identity of new BT CEO confirmed; Vodafone second to claim UK 5G first; cost savings boost Orange earnings; Airtel Africa attracts $1.25 billion investment; and ADVA swings to third-quarter profit.
Former Worldpay CEO Philip Jansen will succeed Gavin Patterson as BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s next CEO from early next year, the UK telecom incumbent has confirmed after it was previously reported to have made him a job offer. Jansen's appointment comes at a difficult time for BT, which has seen its share price fall more than a third in the last two years after an accounting scandal at its Italian business and weak performance in some public-sector and corporate markets. The operator continues to face competitive and regulatory challenges in the UK broadband market, where rivals like Cityfibre are ramping up investments in all-fiber networks, and its decision to invest billions in TV sports rights has also been called into question. Patterson announced his departure earlier this year under pressure from investors unhappy with his management of the business. Jansen will collect basic a salary of £1.1 million ($1.4 million), compared with the £997,000 ($1.29 million) that Patterson received. He will also be entitled to an annual bonus of up to 240% of his salary depending on performance. BT has also been forced to compensate Jansen for the Worldpay shares he will forfeit on leaving that company: It has announced he will receive BT shares worth nearly £900,000 ($1.16 million) at their closing price on October 17. Shares in BT were down 3% today following news of Jansen's appointment. (See Philip Jansen Named as BT's Next CEO, BT Waves Goodbye to Gorgeous Gavin and BT Offers CEO Job to Worldpay's Boss – Report.)
Vodafone UK said it had become the first operator to switch on "full 5G" in the UK just a few weeks after rival EE, a part of BT Group, made similar claims. In a statement, Vodafone said one of its sites in Manchester is now streaming 5G traffic to and from the Internet. Market watchers may view the "5G first" claims from both EE and Vodafone with skepticism, largely because 5G smartphones are not expected to arrive in the market until next year. Vodafone has previously indicated that it expects to launch the first commercial 5G services in mid-2019 and will spend the rest of this year carrying out 5G trials in seven UK cities. Besides Manchester, those include Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and London. For more on Vodafone's 5G news, see this storyon Telecoms.com, our sister site. (See Vodafone's Holo Demo Dazzles Crowd, But Is It a Viable 5G Use Case?, Vodafone UK: We'll Be Ready to Launch 5G in Mid-2019 and Eurobites: EE Trials 5G New Radio at London's Canary Wharf.)
Orange (NYSE: FTE) reported a 0.6% increase in third-quarter revenues, to roughly €10.3 billion ($11.8 million), despite fierce competition in its main markets of France and Spain. The French telecom incumbent also managed a 3% increase in adjusted earnings (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), to about €3.7 billion ($4.2 million), thanks to cost-saving efforts. The results were in line with analyst expectations, and Orange reaffirmed its outlook of growth in adjusted EBITDA for the full year. Orange said it had picked up new mobile and broadband customers in France despite "a very competitive environment." It also flagged an increase in broadband customer numbers in Spain, after reporting a decline for the first half of the year. (See Orange Reports Revenues, Margin Growth in Q3.)
Airtel Africa, a regional unit of Bharti Airtel, has attracted external investments of $1.25 billion from the likes of Singtel and SoftBank ahead of a planned IPO. (See Six Investors to Pump $1.25B into Airtel Africa.)
German optical equipment specialist ADVA Optical Networking posted a 13.5% increase in third-quarter sales, to €126.2 million ($144 million), compared with the year-earlier period, thanks to what CFO Uli Dopfer described as "overall healthy demand from numerous important customers." The company also swung from a net loss of about €14 million ($16 million) in the year-earlier quarter -- when it was hit by restructuring charges related partly to previous merger activity -- to a profit of €3.9 million ($4.5 million). "Q3 2018 was the company's fourth quarter in a row with sequential growth," said Dopfer in a statement. "In addition to our top line momentum, our solid profitability confirms that we are on the right track to further scale our business." (See ADVA Reports Q3 Improvements.)
Philip Jansen will be the next CEO at BT, taking over from Gavin Patterson in early 2019.
— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading