Bouygues Telecom nears 50% FTTH customer milestone
Bouygues Telecom remained in a relatively buoyant mood after the first nine months of 2021, and appeared confident it is on track to meet its fixed and mobile targets outlined under the "Ambition 2026" strategic plan.
The plan, which covers the six-year period from end-2020, envisages the operator being France's number two mobile operator by the end of 2026, as well as being a "major player" in fiber. Bouygues Telecom competes with Orange France and Altice France-owned SFR as well as Iliad's Free.
According to Bouygues Telecom, the fiber element is well underway: the operator said close to half of its fixed customers (4.4 million in total) now have an FTTH plan compared with 34% a year earlier.
Bouygues gained 517,000 FTTH customers in the first three quarters, taking the total to 2.1 million. At the end of September 2021, the number of FTTH premises marketed was 22.5 million, in line with the strategy. Christian Lecoq, CFO of Bouygues Group, said the telecoms unit remains on track to deliver its goal of 3 million additional FTTH customers by the end of 2026.
In terms of its mobile communications business, the newly acquired Bouygues Telecom Business Distribution (BTBD) – the former Euro-Information Telecom (EIT) – continues to boost customer numbers.
The total number of postpaid customers reached 14.6 million by the end of September – owing to the integration of BTBD's 2.1 million customers on January 1, 2021, and the addition of 436,000 new customers in the first nine months.
Lecoq noted that the telecoms unit has almost achieved two thirds of its 2026 target to win 4 million additional mobile customers, excluding machine-to-machine.
Banking on growth
The acquisition of EIT from Crédit Mutuel also saw Bouygues Telecom form a distribution partnership with the French bank to extend its potential customer reach via Crédit Mutuel and CIC bank branches and their 30,000 customer advisers.
Lecoq said Bouygues Telecom offers are now being sold in both CIC and Crédit Mutuel banks, and existing Crédit Mutuel Mobile and CIC Mobile customers should be moved over to Bouygues Telecom by the end of 2023. "The integration [from the EIT IT system] is on a very good path," he said.
Lecoq noted that although the CIC Mobile and Crédit Mutuel Mobile brands will no longer be maintained, with Bouygues Telecom offers being made to new customers instead, former EIT brands such as NRJ Mobile, Auchan Télécom and Cdiscount Mobile will be retained.
In terms of its financial performance, Bouygues Telecom said revenue increased 13% year-on-year (or 5% on a like-for-like basis) to €5.3 billion (US$6 billion) in the first nine months of the year. EBITDA after leases increased by 7% year-on-year to €1.2 billion ($1.35 billion), which Bouygues said is in line with its full-year target.
Operating profit was €541 million ($613 million), up €81 million year-on-year. Net capex was €878 million ($994.6 million), up €263 million in part owing to the investments needed for the BTBD integration and 5G and fiber network rollouts. Bouygues Telecom confirmed its 2021 targets for organic growth in sales from services estimated at around 5%; an increase in EBITDAal (including BTBD) of around 7%; and net capex of around €1.3 billion ($1.47 billion), excluding 5G frequencies.
The targets to be achieved by 2026 are sales from services of more than €7 billion ($7.9 billion), EBITDAal of around €2.5 billion ($2.8 billion), and free cash flow of around €600 million ($679 million).
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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading