Iliad’s Free mobile business grew by two million subscribers in 2014 and, just three years after launch, has nabbed 15 per cent market share in France, according to its annual results.
Mobile turnover surged 28 per cent to €1.6 billion, as Free recruited more subscribers than any of its three rivals throughout the year.
Iliad founder Xavier Niel (pictured) felt able to pour cold water on the long running talk of mergers in the French market.
“I don’t think there will be consolidation… I simply do not believe it,” he said on an analyst conference call, pointing to Bouygue Telecom’s unwillingness to sell. His comments were reported by Reuters.
Free last year passed Bouygues Telecom to become France’s third largest operator, according to figures from GSMA Intelligence.
Despite the fast growth, Free has struggled to lift profitability at a similar rate to turnover. Iliad’s consolidated Ebitda in 2014 was €1.28 billion, an increase of 6.6 per cent.
The company’s Ebitda margin narrowed by more than one point due to the higher weighting within the group of the mobile business, which has a lower Ebitda margin than Iliad’s fixed business.
One of the factors impacting Ebitda was the group’s rollout of its own network in 2014. Extending Free’s network means it carries a greater volume of its own traffic, a positive effect that is partially offset by the end of asymmetrical call termination charges, including for roaming.
Consolidated revenue for Iliad, including fixed and mobile, rose by 11 per cent to €4.17 billion.