Proximus in COVID 'containment' mode

Belgian operator Proximus posted a year-on-year Q2 downturn in Group revenue of 5.9%, to €1.33 billion (US$1.57 billion), but new CEO Guillaume Boutin insisted that the Group – at least when judged on EBITDA performance – "contained the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic."

Group EBITDA, at €477 million ($565 million), slipped 1.5% compared with the same quarter in 2019. "We are confident to reach the high end of the full-year guidance," added Boutin.

The Proximus full-year outlook for underlying Group EBITDA (minus capex) is €780-800 million ($923-947 million).

To protect margins, Boutin has not been afraid to sanction some tough cost-cutting measures.

Proximus managed to cut Q2 operating expenses by a meaty 8.8% at its domestic operations, largely thanks to a lower headcount.

COVID-19 containment does not mean immunity, however. Proximus' Q2 "direct margin" – revenue minus cost of sales – fell by 4.7% at its domestic operations, year-on-year, to €880 million ($1.05 billion).

The company pinned the blame on COVID-19 for more than half of that decline. Customer segments, it said, were impacted by lower roaming volumes following travel bans.

Direct margin wasn't helped either by Proximus offering consumer and enterprise segments temporary free usage of some selected services.

Upgraded fiber plans
Proximus claimed it was "rapidly deploying" fiber across Belgium. As of June 30, the operator passed 346,000 households with fiber, up from 307,000 three months previously.

Through a partnership strategy – or Joint Ventures as it calls it - Proximus has increased its 2025 fiber rollout target, by 30%, from around 2.4 million homes and businesses passed to over 3.1 million. The 2028 target is 4.2 million.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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