Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) recorded a sharply wider loss in 2019, as uncertainties about a planned merger with TPG Telecom impacted customer acquisition and revenue.
Net loss more than doubled to AUD279 million ($183 million), while revenue slipped 2.8 per cent year-on-year to AUD3.52 billion.
CEO Inaki Berroeta said it managed uncertainty by taking a deliberate focus on commercial stability. He noted it was moving forward on the merger with TPG Telecom, following the Federal Court approving the proposed AUD15 billion deal, after rejecting concerns by the country’s competition watchdog.
“We look forward to implementing the merger, subject to any appeal and further approvals, and delivering benefits to both VHA and TPG/iiNet customers.”
He said the merged company will have a strong balance sheet, significantly improved spectrum and transmission assets, and increased cross-selling opportunities, which “will enable us to compete with confidence in the market and reverse the downward movements of 2019”.
Berroeta said within weeks it will switch on its first 5G sites, which will be the first of more than 650 being built. The merger will enable it to accelerate the rollout, which will see several thousand sites deployed in the coming years, he said.
Acting CFO Sean Crowley said the operator wasn’t in a position to take an aggressive approach to mobile customer growth in 2019, adding: “Facing an uncertain environment, we made a strategic decision to focus on maintaining our post-paid mobile base”.
Its total subscriber base fell 4.6 per cent to 5.7 million, with prepaid down 8.6 per cent to 2.02 million and post-paid dipping 1.1 per cent to 3.42 million. MVNO customers declined 12.9 per cent to 310,000.
ARPU decreased 4.9 per cent to AUD33.35.
Crowley noted its prepaid customer base was impacted by a clean-up in Q4 which removed 94,000 which were not generating revenue.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back