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Meteor records €146m loss as competition bites

MOBILE phone and broadband provider Meteor recorded pre-tax losses last year of €146.6m after booking an impairment charge of €112m.

Accounts just filed by Meteor Mobile Communications show revenues fell by 10.7pc to €408.9m in the 12 months to the end of June. The impairment charge was driven by lower cash flows due to increased competition, reduced consumer spending and rising unemployment.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) dropped by 42pc to €59m.

"Since the year-end, the mobile market has continued to be extremely challenging and the company's EBITDA has further declined," the directors said in the accounts. "This is attributable to the downturn in the general economic climate, the reduction in mobile termination rates and continued intense competition in the mobile market."

Meteor is part of the Eircom group now in examinership. Its examiner, Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton, has finalised a scheme of arrangement with Eircom's lenders that he hopes will allow the company to exit the examinership.

Mr McAteer has notified creditors of his plans to call a meeting in Dublin on Friday to outline the proposals that he will then take to the Commercial Court for approval.

The directors' report for Meteor shows the number of subscribers fell last year by 1.2pc to 1,031,268. The company recorded the pre-tax loss of €146.6m after recording a pre-tax profit of €9.1m in fiscal 2010. The firm received a tax credit of €12.2m in 2011 to result in an after-tax loss of €134.3m.

Combined non-cash costs such as amortisation and depreciation amounted to €90m compared to €89.2m in 2010.

A restructuring charge of €1.4m -- compared to €3.5m in 2010 -- contributed to the losses last year.

The company's finance costs, down by 19pc from €3.1m to €2.5m, also hit pre-tax profits last year.

Operating costs, excluding amortisation, depreciation and restructuring costs last year fell from €354.8m to €346.7m.

Staff costs last year totalled €45.5m compared to €48.1m in 2010.

Staff employed by the firm last year fell from 751 to 673, with 372 in sales and customer support, 253 in operations/technical and 87 in administration.

Irish Independent