Market disruptor Iliad, no doubt to the consternation of incumbents in France and Italy, seems to be doing well thank you very much.
Only days after Vodafone CEO Nick Read was ruminating that low prices in Italy were "not at a sustainable level" and that there were "too many players in the market," privately owned Iliad Group – buoyed by growth in both Italy and France – posted a fairly robust set of Q1 FY22 results.
Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization after leases (EBITDAaL) grew 5.4% year-on-year to €714 million (US$756 million). Higher contributions from Italy (€70 million/$74 million) and France (€33 million/$35million), when measured on a like-for-like pro forma basis, helped here.
More subscribers, of course, led to higher revenue. In France, apparently for the first time since 2013, the "Free" brand ended Q1 with the market's highest number of net adds for both fixed (56,000) and mobile (127,000). Revenue rose 6.1% year-on-year to €1.34 billion ($1.42 billion) in France.
In Italy, Iliad added 320,000 new mobile subscribers during the quarter, taking its total to 8.8 million. Revenue was up 13.9% year-on-year to €214 million ($227 million). No mention was made on uptake of Iliad's low-priced broadband offer launched earlier in the year.
Poland was the only blip, where revenue was down 3.5% year-on-year to €384 million ($407 million). Iliad said this was caused mainly by "regulatory impacts" and did not affect profitability. Strip out those regulatory impacts, added the Group, and revenues would have risen 3.1%.
As with France and Italy, Iliad now claims to be a "convergent operator" in Poland, offering both fixed and mobile services. Last month Iliad completed the acquisition of cable operator UPC Polska from Liberty Global.
Not ruling out Italian consolidation
Despite the failure of its €13 billion ($13.7 billion) audacious bid to buy Vodafone Italia in February, Iliad CEO Thomas Reynaud did not rule out looking elsewhere in the country for M&A.
"If a consolidation were to take place (in Italy) and if a player were to sell its Italian asset, we would look into it," Reynaud said on a results call (as reported by Reuters).
Iliad is reportedly looking to strike a deal with rival Wind Tre in Italy to share mobile network rollout costs.
"Our priority remains to grow organically," added Reynaud.
- Spurned Iliad to go it alone in Italy
- Vodafone CEO quizzed on lack of M&A
- Vodafone, Iliad merger could revive Italian mobile – if allowed
- Iliad buying Vodafone Italy would need a few miracles
— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading