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Markets News

CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Iliad extends subscriber gains in solid third-quarter

(Corrects spelling of the CEO’s name in paragraphs 2 and 4.)

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Iliad SA added a record number of users to its French fiber broadband network in the third quarter in a boost to sales, and said it expected a less severe slowdown under a second wave of lockdowns.

The French telecoms operator has been expanding its high speed network and Chief Executive Thomas Reynaud pledged to keep rapidly investing in fibre - a strategy to which he credited the quarter’s gains, alongside the summer launch of its set-top Freebox Pop.

Overall, Iliad, Europe’s sixth-largest mobile operator, added 99,000 net new broadband subscribers in France during the quarter in its best performance in nearly eight years, pushing revenue up 6.3% to 1.42 billion euros ($1.68 billion).

Reynaud predicted a less severe impact from new lockdowns as company benefits from capacity added over summer to cope with increased traffic, while it faces fewer obstacles in securing permits for new construction sites.

The group, which competes with market leader Orange , Altice Europe’s SFR and Bouygues Telecom , internally estimated it had the highest number of fixed net adds in France during the quarter and also confirmed its full-year and mid-term targets.

It is set to launch 5G in coming weeks.

The group is controlled by French tycoon Xavier Niel and has been expanding steadily outside its home market, recently winning antitrust clearance for its 3.5 billion euro acquisition of top Polish mobile operator Play.

Its public offer for Play closes late on Tuesday, with news of the outcome expected on Friday.

In Italy, where Iliad launched a mobile offer two years ago and plans to offer fixed services by next summer, the business edged towards breakeven and its target market share of just under 10%, helped by higher revenues and customer numbers.

However, Iliad predicted a less dynamic fourth quarter in the country in the face of competitors’ aggressive pricing and store closures during new lockdowns.

Credit Suisse analysts said the healthy pace of site deployment in Italy read well for tower companies.

($1=0.8435 euros)

Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Kirsten Donovan

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