Belgacom added 46,000 fixed internet customers in 2012 to reach a total of 1,637,000, and 175, 000 Belgacom TV customers to 1,386,00. Meanwhile, the number of mobile customers droppedby 43,000 (-16,000 postpaid and -17,000 prepaid) to a total 5,416,000 and the number of customers with a fixed line decreased by 119,000 to 3,085,000. The total of customers went up by 148,000, with 1,237,000 opting for a Pack.
Mixed mobile ARPU decreased by 9.2 percent in 2012 compared to the year before. Data and SMS revenues both declined while churn peaked in the fourth quarter at 36 percent, from 25 percent the year before.
CEO Didier Bellens attributed the fall in mobile to the difficult Belgian mobile market, which saw an unprecedented customer rotation following the change in contract rules under Belgium’s new telecom law. Heightened competition with the entrance of Telenet also brought down mobile pricing. Bellens said the company responded to the new market conditions by revisiting its mobile offerings, decreasing mobile customer churn.
Belgacom ended the year with total revenues at EUR 6.46 billion, up 0.9 percent from the year before. EBITDA fell 6.7 percent to EUR 1.78 billion with the EBITDA margin at 27.6 percent. The net profit fell by EUR 45 million to EUR 711 million.
The Consumer Business Unit saw sales growth rise 1.4 percent from the year before, mainly driven by strong growth of TV and continued uptake of fixed and mobile data products, underbuilt by the success of the convergent Packs. Sales at the Enterprise Business Unit slid 2.3 percent, with revenue contribution of ICT and mobile data not able to fully compensate the erosion from fixed and mobile voice. At Belgacom International Carrier Services, sales advanced 5.3 percent, driven by strong mobile data growth as well as increase in voice traffic.
Capex for the year reached EUR 753 million, or 11.7 percent of group revenue. Belgacom’s fibre coverage reaches now 85 percent and its 3G-outdoor coverage over 97 percent. The total free cash flow by end 2012 amounted to EUR 691 million, down by 97 million from the year earlier due to the lower EBITDA, the acquisition of Wireless Technologies (The Phone House) and the payment of the 4G spectrum license and higher income tax payments.
Belgacom closed the year with its financial debt at EUR 1.60 billion, or 0.9 times EBITDA (before non-recurring items).
The company will propose a dividend of EUR 2.49 gross per share for 2012.
For 2013, Belgacom is guiding for revenues down 1-2 percent from the year before and EBITDA down 4-6 percent due to accounting changes. The company plans to accelerate investment in Vectoring on its VDSL2 network and simplify its architecture.
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