The iliad Group keeps up its growth momentum in first-quarter 2022
May 20, 2022
The Group’s results for the first three months of 2022 followed the same robust growth trajectory as seen for several quarters now. This momentum has been propelled by the massive investments we have devoted to our 4G/5G and FTTH networks and Cloud solutions in order to offer our B2C and B2B customers best-in-class connectivity and highly innovative services. Today's inflationary pressures and energy crisis have made us more determined than ever to build a virtuous growth model.
In the first quarter of 2022, the iliad Group recorded robust growth in its subscriber bases in each of its three geographies, clearly showing how our fundamental values of freedom, simplicity, generosity, transparency and fair prices are shared by others.
Like-for-like pro forma growth1 for revenues came to 5.1% during the period, and 6.2% excluding the regulatory impacts in Poland. Broken down by country, Revenues were up 6.1% year on year in France and 13.9% in Italy, but edged down 1.9% in Poland1, mainly due to regulatory impacts that did not affect profitability (excluding the regulatory impacts, revenues rose by 3.1%).
The Group's overall active subscriber base increased by 872,000 units, comprising 790,000 mobile subscribers and 82,000 fixed subscribers:
- In France, for the first time since 2013, Free ended the quarter with the market's highest number of net adds for both its Fixed (56,000 new subscribers) and Mobile (127,000 new subscribers) offerings. This performance reflects the Group’s rankings for overall subscriber satisfaction in the latest ARCEP survey: joint number one for Fixed, and number two for Mobile2.
- In Italy, we added 320,000 new subscribers in the first quarter despite a fiercely competitive environment. iliad Italia was the only operator in the country3 to see its brand preference score improve during the period, and remains the leading recruiter of new mobile subscribers in the market. The launch of the Group's Fiber offer in Italy has also been successful and iliad Italia will continue to extend its sales reach in order to meet demand.
- In Poland, Play saw strong growth in its prepaid mobile subscriber base following the distribution of free SIM cards to support Ukrainian refugees. The recruitment of 43,000 new subscribers on plans illustrates Play's strong positioning, with growth in both volume and value.
Consolidated EBITDAaL grew by 6.1% to €714 million on a like-for-like pro forma basis, mainly driven by higher contributions from Italy and France (up by €70 million and €33 million, respectively). Operating cash flow improved significantly, coming in at €285 million, with capex in France following a different seasonal pattern than in 2021, as our priority today is to continue to expand our mobile networks, meet the high demand for ultra-fast network connectivity, and pursue our innovation drive for Cloud solutions.
The Group completed the acquisition of UPC Polska on April 1, 2022. As part of the acquisition, nearly 1,300 new employees have joined the iliad Group. The integration phase is underway and aims to establish the combined outfit of Play and UPC Polska – which is now Poland’s second-largest telecom operator4 – as the country's leader in network convergence.
At March 31, 2022, the Group’s leverage ratio was 2.7x, stable compared with end-December 2021. With the sale of its 30% interest in OTF and a further 10% stake in OTP to Cellnex at the end of February for an aggregate €1.1 billion, the Group demonstrated its ability to optimize the monetization of its assets and to continue to exercise strict financial discipline. In this regard, the Group is also pleased to announce that iliad SA received its first public EUR Senior Unsecured Notes rating by Moody’s Investor Services (“Moody’s”), S&P and Fitch on May 20, 2022, which assigned ratings of Ba2/BB/BB respectively, that will apply to existing issuances. In addition, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s have assigned Iliad SA a long-term issuer standalone credit profile of bb+.
Commenting on iliad’s performance, Thomas Reynaud, the Group’s Chief Executive Officer, said: "Above and beyond the very good results and the 900,000 new subscribers recruited over the last three months, the symbolic impact of this first quarter has been immense. The iliad Group is now present in its three geographies in both the Mobile and Fixed segments thanks to the launch of our Fixed offer in Italy and the acquisition of UPC Polska in Poland. In France, Italy and Poland, iliad is now a convergent operator that will be able to fully leverage the complementarity of its offerings from a commercial perspective."
Stay up to date with the latest industry developments: sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox – including our daily news briefing and weekly wrap.