Bouygues Telecom remains in a bullish mood about its future as a standalone company, saying that higher sales and cost savings will help boost profitability in the longer term.
France's third-largest mobile operator, which only recently rejected a €10 billion ($11 billion) takeover offer from Altice, is now forecasting more than 10 per cent sales growth in 2017 compared to 2014, based on 1 million more mobile customers as well as 1 million additional fixed-line customers
It reiterated its EBITDA margin target of 25 per cent for 2017, and said it expects this to increase to 35 per cent in the longer term. It added that average annual capex would amount to around €750 million in the coming years.
Bouygues Telecom based its confident outlook on its success so far in cutting costs, and on the "quality and strength" of its network.
The company embarked on a major transformation in 2012 in order to create a viable standalone business, and said it has already achieved higher cost savings than expected.
For example, costs were reduced by €600 million -- double the initial target -- in its mobile business between 2011 and 2013. It now expects savings of €400 million in both its mobile and fixed business between the end of 2013 and 2016. That would be €100 million more than originally planned.
The company also continues to vie with rivals over who has leadership in 4G, saying its network now covers 72 per cent of France's population and is expected to reach 99 per cent coverage by 2018.
According to the latest monthly update from France's national frequencies agency ANFR, Orange France is currently ahead of Bouygues Telecom in terms of the number of 4G sites in service: as of the beginning of October, Orange had 7,902 sites in service compared to Bouygues Telecom's 7,756. Free Mobile is now in third place with 4,648 sites, while SFR has dropped to fourth place with 3,507 sites.
The majority of the sites are deployed in the 2.6 GHz frequency band (15,062 authorised for this band), while 12,284 have been authorised for the 800 MHz band and 7,225 for the 1800 MHz band. All four operators also plan to take part in the 700 MHz frequency auction planned before the end of 2015.
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