Saturday 27 December 2014

'3' Ireland loses €29m while profits at BT drop by 36pc

Adrian Weckler and Gordon Deegan

Published 01/03/2014 | 02:30

Robert Finnegan, CEO of mobile network 3
Robert Finnegan, CEO of mobile network 3

NEW accounts show that 3 Ireland made a loss of €29m last year while BT Ireland made a profit of €28.1m.

3 Ireland's losses came despite a €6m increase in revenue, a 17pc rise in customers here and a €27m improvement in pre-tax profits. Its average revenue per user (Arpu), seen as an industry yardstick for profitability, fell 10pc to €28.93.

The company's bump in customer numbers came entirely in the pre-paid element, which rose by 36pc to 610,000 customers. However, less than half of these pre-paid customers (237,000) were described as "active" customers who generated any income within a three-month period. The operator's post-paid customer base fell 5pc to 351,000 users, of which 311,000 were described as "active".

The operator also revealed that its monthly data usage for active customers was an average of 1.5 gigabytes (GB) across its European operators.

Over at BT, one-off costs last year contributed to pre-tax profits at the main Irish arm of communications giant last year declining by 36pc to €28.1m.

New figures just lodged with the Companies Office show that BT Communications Ireland recorded the drop in profits in spite of revenues increasing from €425.7m to €438.2m in the 12 months to the end of March 31. According to the directors report, the BT Ireland's profits were hit during the year from one-off costs, including a lease exit charge and accelerated depreciation relating to the retirement of legacy platforms.

Over at 3 Ireland, the mobile phone company remained adamant that its continued investment in Ireland is contingent on its €780m acquisition of O2 Ireland.

If successful, the deal would see 3 Ireland become Ireland's second largest mobile operator with almost twice the market share of the third-placed operator, Meteor. However, European regulators have raised objections to the takeover, based on fears that a reduction in the number of network operators from four to three here could damage price competition. European regulators also fear that existing network sharing arrangements, seen as benefiting competition, might be disrupted.

3 Ireland is understood to have offered significant concessions to the European Commission, including the divestment of 4G spectrum in favour of Meteor and commitments on network-sharing. A decision by the European Commission is expected later this month.

3 Ireland's parent firm Hutchison Whampoa also owns health and beauty franchises Superdrug and The Perfume Shop. The accounts reported higher revenue across Europe without specifying Irish units.

Irish Independent

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