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Altice bounces back with subscriber gains

Altice France bounced back in operational terms in Q1, growing its base for the first time since Altice took control of SFR. The group added 71,000 net new customers compared with a loss of 35,000 for the same quarter last year.

Altice France added 96,000 new fibre customers, boosted by higher additions and much reduced churn, and 239,000 net new post-paid mobile customers, the company’s best quarterly performance since Altice’s acquisition of the French company.

Patrick Drahi

Altice attributed the improved performance to better service quality leading to significant reduction in churn. It also highlighted its investment in content as a key differentiator.

In Portugal, Altice’s fixed residential base also grew for the second quarter on a row with 4,000 net additions, compared with a loss of 28,000 for the comparative period last year. Altice Portugal/Meo added 49,000new fibre customers, up from 31,000 net additions last year, tanks in part to its extension in fibre coverage.

In Israel, Altice’s Hot also grew its base for the first time since the company’s acquisition, adding 1,000 unique new customers in the quarter, compared with a loss of 3,000 last year.

In what are Altice Europe’s first results since the split between Altice’s European and US arms, the company posted flat year-on-year revenues for the quarter of €3.6 billion. Adjusted EBITDA was €1.28 billion, down 0.5%. the company singifincantly upped its investment in networks, equipment and services in the quarter to €761 million, compared with €687 million for the prior year.

“In the first quarter of 2018, Altice Europe has started to deliver on its operational turnaround plan, showing the best subscriber trends Altice has ever reported. Our strategy is paying off, focusing on making our customer experience better through improving processes, infrastructure investments, the best customer premise equipment such as Sofia, and renewed commercial offers with content as a key differentiator,” said Altice founder Patrick Drahi.

Drahi, who said he was “confident that these first initial significant improvements will be further enhanced in the coming quarters”, can take additional satisfaction from the comparison with rival French service provider Iliad Telecom/Free, which this week reported a net loss of fixed customers, blaming competition in the market.

Altice said that the split between the European and US divisions would be complete by the beginning of June, with the sale of Altice’s Dominican Republic unit and its French transmission towers arm envisaged for the second half.