Vodafone posts 5.1% earnings increase in Q3

01 Feb 2007

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Vodafone Group, the world's largest mobile phone company, reported a 5.1% rise in third-quarter revenue after a strong performance in emerging markets saw it add 8.7 million mobile telephone customers over the three months.

Vodafone also reiterated its interest in gaining a controlling stake in India's fourth-largest mobile operator Hutchison Essar, but said it would stick to an unspecified price ceiling in the event of a bidding war.

In a trading update, the company said it crossed the 200-million customer mark in January after net new subscribers on a proportionate basis rose by 22.5 % in the three months ended Dec. 31.

The proportionate numbers count subscribers in proportion to Vodafone's stake in a subsidiary, it counts 44.4% of customers in Verizon Wireless in the US, in which it holds an equivalent stake.

The biggest revenue increases were seen in Vodafone's emerging markets including Turkey, Egypt and Romania, while its core European markets grew more slowly because of tough pricing competition and market saturation.

Some key shareholders had called for the sale of the Verizon Wireless stake to allow Vodafone to focus on growth in Europe and Asia.

Vodafone is also keen to gain a foothold in India as one of the world's fastest growing markets, it is now adding 5 million new mobile phone connections every month, more than China.

But a bidding war appears likely for Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa's controlling stake in India's Hutchison Essar, with Vodafone's biggest competition expected to be Reliance Communications, India's second-largest mobile phone company.

© 2007 The Associated Press

© 2007 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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