Telenor's international strategy pays off

Natalie Apostolou & Dylan Bushell-Embling
30 Oct 2009

Norway’s Telenor has beaten market expectations with a 14% rise in Q3 ebitda to 4.5 billion kronor ($646.3 million).

During the quarter the operator added 4 million mobile subs, reaching 172 million across the Nordic states, eastern Europe and in emerging Asia, where it is the second-largest foreign operator behind Vodafone.

In Thailand, 65.5%-owned subsidiary DTAC boosted operating profit 6.7% to 522 million kronor. The mobile operator added 71,000 subscribers, maintaining a 30% share of the post-paid market.

Malaysian operator DiGi, in which Telenor owns the maximum 49% stake permitted, lifted revenue 9.3% from exchange rate gains. But the carrier's operating profit fell 1.8% as intense competition caused ARPU in local currency to tumble 6%.

Bangladesh market leader Grameenphone – 62% owned by Telenor – recorded a nearly 80% increase in operating profit, raking in 462 million kronor as it reaped the benefits of a marketing drive. But while 822,000 subscribers were added during the quarter, Grameenphone's share of the subscription market fell slightly to 44%.

Telenor Pakistan narrowed its operating loss to 52 million kronor from 122 million kronor during Q3 2008. The operator maintained its market share of 22%, adding 766,000 subscribers during the quarter.

“We expect that our focus on cost control and improved efficiency will enable us to deliver a slightly stronger ebitda margin and lower investments than originally anticipated for 2009,” Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas said.

The carrier increased its full year 2009 ebitda margin guidance by one point to 35%. It reduced its estimate for capital expenditure to 13% of net revenues from earlier guidance of 13%-15%

The company said its Nordic operations were on track to deliver on a 10 billion crown cash-flow target, while Telenor Pakistan showed good progress towards reaching cash flow break-even in 2010 and its Bangladeshi arm delivered “very strong” results.

The carrier said that its new Indian JV, Unitech Wireless, was on track to launch services in the fourth quarter.


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