Mobistar's future is now Orange

Mobistar formally adopted the Orange brand in Belgium with effect from Monday, completing a process that was first confirmed in February and is designed to support the company's converged service strategy.

The operator's CEO, Jean-Marc Harion, has previously said that the introduction of the Orange brand would enable Mobistar to bolster its position on the Belgian market as a convergent as well as a mobile player. Orange still holds a 53 per cent stake in the operator.

"The adoption of the Orange brand is a unique opportunity to strengthen our presence in our markets and to support our entrance into the world of convergence with the upcoming launch of our cable Internet and TV offer for residential customers and the recent launch of the new Pulse offers for companies," Harion said in February.

Mobistar finally unveiled its Internet and digital TV offering on Mar. 1, and said 44 per cent of Belgian households or 2.1 million households in total were eligible for the service by the end of the first quarter. The launch of the company's consumer convergence offering had been long delayed as Mobistar -- now Orange Belgium -- waited for regulators to set wholesale prices for cable resale.

The cable offering places the company in a better position to compete with rival players: Proximus already sells 'Packs' that combine fixed and mobile offerings, while Base Belgium will be able to exploit Telenet's existing triple-play offerings now the two companies have completed their merger.

Harion said he was "extremely happy with the promising start of our Internet and digital TV offering," and also noted that the first quarter of 2016 marked an "important turning point" for the operator with a return to growth in mobile service revenues and underlying restated EBITDA.

"This quarter is also the first quarter of our new 2016-2020 development plan, which is centred on growing our mobile value market share, by leveraging both the increasing customer appetite for mobile data and the positioning of Orange as a convergent operator in Belgium," he added.

In the first quarter of 2016, mobile service revenues increased by 2.9 per cent year-on-year to €254.3 million ($289 million). Underlying restated EBITDA increased by 4.1 per cent year-on-year to €72.7 million. However, restated EBITDA was €53.8 million because of certain costs such as pylon taxes in Walloon. Analysts from Jefferies International noted that this was still 1.9 per cent above consensus and 5.2 per cent above Jefferies estimates.

The company reiterated its full-year 2016 outlook with a restated EBITDA ranging between €270 million and €290 million excluding cable costs. It added that it had more than 3.7 million mobile customers at the end of the quarter, with 1.1 million customers using a 4G smartphone. 4G outdoor and indoor coverage reach 99 per cent and 88 per cent of the population respectively at the end of the first quarter of 2016.

For more:
- see the Mobistar Q1 2016 results

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