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Jio impacts Vodafone India H1-17 results

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BENGALURU: Vodafone Group Plc (Vodafone group) reported Group organic service revenue up 2.3 per cent for the half year ended 30 September 2016 (H1-17).  H1-17 Group revenue declined 3.9 per cent to €27,054 million as compared to € 28,151 million for H1-6 (corresponding period of the previous year). H1-17 Vodafone Group reported organic EBITDA growth of 4.3 per cent to €7,906 million, supported by strong cost control. In real terms, EBIDTA declined 1.7 per cent from $8,039 million reported for H1-16.

India numbers

Vodafone India contributed about 11.1 per cent to Vodafone Group revenues and adds about 43.7 per cent to Vodafone group mobile subscriber base in the quarter ended 30 September 2016 or Q2-17. About 51.4 per cent of the group’s voice usage was from India in Q2-17 at 183,555 million minutes (Total group 357,034 million minutes).

Vodafone India Service revenue grew by 5.9 per cent (quarter ended 30 June 2016 or Q1-17: 6.4 per cent, Q2-17: 5.4 per cent) in H1-17 to Rs 22,579 crore from Rs 21,321 crore in H1-16. Excluding regulatory drags including MTR cuts, roaming price caps and an increase in service tax, the quarterly rate of growth slowed from 7.7 per cent in Q1-17 to 6.3 per cent in Q2-17. This underlying slowdown was mainly driven by lower data revenue growth resulting from increased competitive pressure says the company.

Data revenue growth slowed from 22 per cent in Q1-17 to 16 per cent in Q2-17. This was driven by a flattening of unique data user growth quarter-on-quarter, reflecting the impact of ‘free’ promotional offers from a new entrant, viz., Reliance Jio. 

Vodafone group’s active data customer base at the period end was 69.6 million or 6.96 crore (Q1-17- 69.7 million or 6.97 crore). Overall data pricing declined 14 per cent year-on-year, while data usage per customer continued to grow strongly to 504MB (+28 per cent). Vodafone group 3G / 4G customer base continued to grow to 36 million (3.6 crore), up 51 per cent, and smartphone penetration was now 34.5 per cent says the company. Vodafone India reported revenue from data of Rs 4,617 crore. Data ARPU (for users more than 1MB) was at Rs 164 in Q2-17 versus Rs 158 in Q2-16.

Voice revenue growth increased to 2.7 per cent in Q2-17 (Q1-17: 2.2 per cent) supported by a growing customer base. This was despite seasonally lower average minutes of use per customer. Total mobile customers increased 2.8 million (28 lakh) over the period, giving a closing customer base of over 200 million for the first time (Q2: 200.7 million or 20.07 crore).

During the period Vodafone India added 4,100 new 3G sites, taking the total to 63,000. It also has 13,000 4G sites. In the Indian spectrum auction during October Vodafone India increased its total spectrum holding by 62 per cent. 

Overall Vodafone paid Rs 20,300 crore (€2.7 billion), of which 92 per cent was on spectrum for the 12 circles in which it claims to be a market leader. Vodafone India plans to extend its 4G footprint from 9 to 17 circles by the end of the current financial year. These circles cover around 91 per cent of Vodafone India’s service revenues and 94 per cent of its data revenues.

EBITDA grew by 2.6 per cent in H1-17 to Rs 6,704 crore from Rs 6,534 crore, with the EBITDA margin declining by 0.1 percentage points to 29.6 per cent due to higher network and customer acquisition costs, which were largely offset by significant operating cost savings says the company.

The Vodafone Group intends to proceed with an IPO of Vodafone India as soon as market conditions allow. It does not expect this to take place during the current financial year.

Company speak

Vodafone group chief executive Vittorio Colao said, ‘We have further improved our performance during the first half of the financial year with Europe modestly ahead of our expectations - led by Germany and Italy - and good execution in AMAP. Our substantial network investments and ‘more-for-more’ propositions have allowed us to capture opportunities from strong data demand, supporting European mobile contract ARPU and continued growth in emerging markets. As Europe’s fastest-growing broadband operator, we are driving rapid uptake of our consumer fixed and TV services while our wholly converged Enterprise business continues to outperform its peers. We are now translating faster revenue growth into margin expansion, supported by our focus on cost efficiency.

Competition in India has increased in the year, reducing revenue growth and profitability. We have responded to this changing competitive environment by strengthening our data and voice commercial offers and by focusing our participation in the recent spectrum auction on acquiring frequencies in the more successful and profitable areas of the country.

Overall, we expect to sustain our underlying performance in the second half of the year and remain on track to meet our full-year objectives despite macroeconomic uncertainties. This performance allows for improved returns to our shareholders, as reflected by the growth in the interim dividend.

Vodafone India managing director and CEO Sunil Sood commented: “Amidst a dynamic environment, we delivered a solid performance. We are well prepared for the increased level of competitive intensity that we are experiencing. We have strengthened our customer value propositions making Vodafone Play, your one window to the world of entertainment, launched exciting 4G offers – 9GB free on purchase of 1GB pack for new 4G handsets and revamped Vodafone RED for high end voice and data users. Further, we pioneered lifestyle propositions such as Vodafone U for young customers and Vodafone Flex, which allows customers to make a single recharge for voice, sms and data. We expanded our 4G footprint to 9 circles by launching services in 4 new circles. With the spectrum bought recently, we will roll out the Vodafone SuperNet 4G experience rapidly to 2,400 towns and in 8 additional circles by March. We continue to invest to expand our modern and scalable network with a strong backhaul, to support the increasing volumes and need for speed from both retail and enterprise customers. We remain committed to fulfill the evolving needs of our customers and leverage our global experience plus rich understanding of India to play a meaningful role in enabling Digital India.”

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