3 Group will “continue to explore growth opportunities through potential consolidation in markets which the Group currently operates in,” indicating it will continue to be a key dealmaker in the European market.
The company has already acquired Telefonica’s O2 Ireland business and participated in consolidation in Austria, and in January this year entered into exclusive negotiations with Telefonica for the potential acquisition of O2 UK. It has also been linked with moves in the Italian market, most recently with Wind.
Hutchison Whampoa, parent of 3, said that during 2014, all 3 Group markets increased their contribution to group earnings – with the exception of 3 Italy. For the Italian market, it said that it has “faced keen competition during the year”.
3 Group annual EBIT was HKD6.89 billion ($888.69 million),up from HKD4.86 billion, on revenue of HKD65.62 billion, up from HKD61.98 billion. The improvement at the bottom line was said to reflect the improved net customer service margin, well-disciplined operating cost structures, and continued realisation of post-merger cost synergies in Austria and Ireland.
Operating costs represented 45 per cent of net customer service margin, a reduction from 49 per cent in 2013. It saw a “healthy growth in EBITDA margin” to 30 per cent, up from 27 per cent.
The company ended the year with a total customer base of 25 million, up 13 per cent year-on-year. Of these, 16.9 million are contract customers, and 8.1 million are prepaid.