3 Group “achieved another important milestone and reported positive EBITDA less capex for the period”, parent Hutchison Whampoa said in its H1 2013 results.
The “significant” improvement in underlying operating results was attributed to its “strong market position in the smartphone and mobile data segments”, an increased contribution from 3 Austria following its combination with Orange Austria at the start of the year, and a “well-disciplined capital expenditure profile”.
Pre-tax earnings increased by 35 per cent to HKD1.85 billion ($238.53 million), on total revenue up 8 per cent to HKD30.1 billion.
While there was strong growth in revenue in Austria (up 122 per cent following the Orange deal) and solid numbers for the UK (up 9 per cent) and Ireland (up 5 per cent), the 3 operations saw revenue declines in Sweden (down 14 per cent), Denmark (down 11 per cent) and Italy (3 per cent).
And while the company saw positive pre-tax numbers in the UK, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, it was loss making at this level in Italy and Ireland.
The group had 21 million active customers across its operations. Of these, some 14.61 million were contract, and 6.45 million prepaid.
It noted that in Austria, a restructuring is underway to merge the acquired Orange Austria operations, which is “closely monitored to ensure synergies from the acquisition are maximised”.
It also said that across the 3 businesses, the transition to a non-subsidised handset model, together with the “gradual stabilisation” of European mobile termination rate regimes, are likely to provide benefits going forward.
Hutchison’s 3 Ireland recently announced a deal to acquire O2 Ireland, creating the second largest mobile operator in the country, although this deal is subject to regulatory approval. 3 Italy was linked with a partnership with Telecom Italia, although this did not come to fruition.
The Vodafone Hutchison Australia business continued to weigh, with an AUD96 million ($86.1 million) loss for the six months, although this was down from AUD131 million in the first half of 2012. It was impacted by an 8 per cent decline in its customer base, to just over 6 million, including via MVNOs.
Hutchison said: “Although continuing losses are anticipated in the second half of the year, VHA’s management will continue to focus on the turnaround of the business to profitability.”
For its Hong Kong and Macau business, the company announced a 2 per cent increase in profit attributable to shareholders, to reach HKD572 million. Revenue decreased by 8.6 per cent to HKD6.15 billion.
The business has around 3.8 million mobile customers, and its fixed line operations have also seen growth with “increasing data traffic across all networks in Hong Kong”.
For Hutchison Asia Telecommunications, the company reported a 3 percent increase in pre-tax loss to HKD697 million, which was attributed to increased start-up costs and a delay in network ramp-up which affected customer acquisitions in Indonesia.
With the Indonesian network build accelerating in the current quarter, HAT “expects to continue to grow its customer base and customer service revenue, and targets to achieve operational breakeven on a monthly basis by the end of the year”.
Revenue at HAT increased 83 per cent to HKD2.98 billion, with 36 million active customers. It has operations in Vietnam and Sri Lanka as well as Indonesia.