Orange hailed a return to core profit growth a year earlier than planned in 2015 and said it expects EBITDA to continue on an upward trajectory in 2016.
The France-based operator said restated EBITDA increased by 0.1 per cent to €12.43 billion ($13.8 billion) in 2015, meaning that it was able to stabilise core profits a year earlier than set out in the Essentials2020 strategy. At the start of 2015, Orange had anticipated a restated EBITDA of between €11.9 billion and €12.1 billion.
The target for 2016 is a restated EBITDA that is higher than the 2015 figure on a comparable basis. This objective will be supported by continued efforts to reduce the cost structure, the company noted.
Orange Group CEO Stephane Richard said restated EBITDA is growing for the first time since 2009.
"This growth is the result of a very strong commercial performance, particularly in very high-speed broadband, and our continued efforts to control costs," Richard said.
Revenue was relatively stable at €40.24 billion, falling 0.1 per cent year-on-year on a comparable basis. Net income increased by €1.73 billion to €2.96 billion, mainly due to the favourable change in operating results, the reduction of tax expenses and the net income from discontinued operations (UK-based mobile operator EE, which has been acquired by BT).
However, the group's net debt increased by €462 million to €26.55 billion by the end of 2015, mainly because of the acquisition of Jazztel in Spain and the increased participation in and consolidation of Médi Telecom in Morocco.
The number of 4G subscribers in France doubled in a year to reach 18 million, while the total number of mobile subscribers in Africa and the Middle East increased by 4.1 per cent year-on-year on a comparable basis to 110 million.
Investments over the year also increased by 9.3 per cent to €6.5 billion, with a focus on fibre networks in Europe as well as on mobile networks.
With regard to the talks on a potential acquisition of Bouygues Telecom, Orange confirmed its statement from earlier this week that no deal had been reached as yet.
"These discussions are ongoing and require at least several weeks before any decision is taken," the company said.
- see the Orange results statement
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