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Altice Europe sees subscriber growth, but revenues fall

Altice Europe confirmed an improving subscriber trend in the second quarter, adding 13,000 net new subscribers in France, compared with a loss of 16,000 for the same period last year.

The company saw solid uptake of its fibre service in France, with 56,000 net additions in the quarter. In mobile, French unit SFR added 211,000 net new customers in the quarter, compared with 34,000 net new additions for the same period last year. Altice said uptake was boosted by its launch of new offers in March hat helped arrest churn as well as putting in place measures that reduced complaints.

In its other major European market, Portugal, Altice Europe saw its faces base grow for the first time in over five years, with 6,000 net new additions compared with a loss of 12,000 for the same period last year. Meo added 46,000 fibre customers in the quarter, compared with 33,000 for the same period last year, boosted by the operator’s expansion of its coverage area. Meo also added 38,000 new post-paid mobile customers in the quarter.

Altice Europe’s improved subscriber numbers did not immediately translate into revenue and profit growth, however, during a period in which Altice has launched a series of promotional offers. The company has essentially adopted a strategy of rebuilding its subscriber base as a vehicle for future revenue growth, at the cost of sacrificing revenues and margin now.

The company’s revenue declined by 3.8% on a reported basis and 2.3% at constant currency, while EBITDA declined by 9.1% on a reported basis and 5.5% on a constant currency basis. This was despite a drop in capital expenditure from €861 million for the same period last year to €773 million.

Altice founder Patrick Drahi said that Altice Europe had “continuously delivered on its operational turnaround plan, showing continuous improvements in subscriber trends”. He highlighted the fact that the company had “successfully refinanced part of our debt and made significant further progress on the execution of our non-core asset disposal programme, strengthening further our long-term balance sheet position”.