Orange starts making money in France – who would have thought it?

Orange has released its latest quarterly results and it actually made money in its domestic market for the first time since 2009.

Across the business the numbers were pretty positive. Total revenues just went past €41 billion for the year, a 0.4% increase, while operating income stood at €4.9 billion. In the French market, revenues increased 0.6%, in Spain the numbers were up 7.1% and in the Africa & the Middle East regions revenues jumped 3%. Elsewhere, Poland numbers were up 1.1% and the rest of the central European markets demonstrated a 6.2% rise. All pretty positive.

“2017 was a remarkable year for Orange in more ways than one,” said Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange. “The group delivered an excellent commercial performance, driven by very high-speed broadband. We now have 4.7 million fibre customers and 46 million 4G customers across the group.

“This performance has translated into solid financial results. Thanks to a strong fourth quarter, revenues in France returned to growth for the first time since 2009. Spain maintained its impressive growth, while our Africa & Middle East segment recovered strong momentum, with 3% revenue growth year on year.”

The news will certainly put a put more of a skip in the step of Richard, who only yesterday received approval from the Board of Directors for an additional four year mandate. The numbers also show Richard is continuing to stick to his guns when it comes to investment into the network over the shiny and shallow distraction that can be content. Over the course of 2017 €7.209 billion was spent on CAPEX, an increase of 3.4% from 2016. These results show that a telco can make money by investing in a good network experience as opposed to trying to compete with the OTTs, and still be a growing, profitable business. Perhaps the other telcos should take notes.

Richard is still waiting for final confirmation from investors at the annual general meeting but the positive signs are certainly there. Approval from the board – tick. Positive financial results – tick. Backing from French government, Orange’s biggest stakeholder – tick. Bring on 4th May.

The only slight dampener on the results is a loss in the banking division. While the business finished the year with 55,000 customers, ahead of forecasts, it did register a loss of €93 million on revenues of €73 million. This is not something which is surprising, launching a bank is expensive after all.

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