French telco Orange reports that 2015 was particularly rich in structurally significant events for the Group, starting with the presentation of the new strategic plan Essentials2020 in March focused on customers’ expectations and the quality of the Orange experience. In Europe, the acquisition of Jazztel led to the creation of the second largest fixed broadband operator in Spain and one of the most dynamic mobile operators in an environment that is rapidly moving towards convergence. In addition, the Group announced the sale of Orange Armenia to the Armenian operator Ucom in August while the sale of the EE joint venture in the UK to BT Group was completed in January 2016. Orange also strengthened its presence in Africa, a strategic priority for the Group, with the increased participation in and consolidation of Médi Telecom in Morocco from July 1st 2015 and the acquisitions currently underway in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In Africa and the Middle East, growth of the mobile customer base continued to be strong with 110.2 million customers at December 31st 2015 (+4.1 per cent on a comparable basis), while Orange Money had 16.4 million customers at that date (+31 per cent year on year on a comparable basis).
For 2016, Orange aims for a restated EBITDA higher than in 2015 on a comparable basis. This objective will be supported by continued efforts to reduce the cost structure.
The Group maintains its objective of a ratio of net debt to EBITDA of around 2x in the medium term to preserve Orange’s financial strength and investment capacity. Within this framework, the Group is pursuing a policy of selective acquisitions by concentrating on markets in which it is already present.
The Group confirms the payment of a dividend of €0.60 per share for 2015. An interim dividend for 2015 of €0.20 per share was paid on December 9th 2015 and the balance of €0.40 per share will be paid on June 23rd 2016.
The Group expects to propose a dividend of €0.60 per share for 2016. An interim dividend for 2016 of €0.20 per share should be paid in December.
In addition, the Group confirmed at the start of the year that discussions had resumed with the Bouygues Group with the aim of a business combination with Bouygues Telecom. These discussions are ongoing and require at least several weeks before any decision is taken. Orange will act solely in the interests of its shareholders, employees and customers and will be particularly attentive to the value created by such a project.
Commenting on the 2015 results, Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of the Orange Group, said: “Our good results for 2015 confirm the relevance of our new strategic plan, Essentiels2020, designed to differentiate us in terms of quality of customer experience. For the first time since 2009, and one year ahead of target, restated EBITDA for the year is growing.”
“This growth is the result of a very strong commercial performance, particularly in very high-speed broadband, and our continued efforts to control costs. The number of 4G customers, which reached 18 million, has doubled in a year and we have 1.9 million fibre customers, three times more than at the end of 2014. We also have 110 million mobile customers in Africa and the Middle East, up 4.1 per cent year on year on a comparable basis.”
“This commercial momentum is the reward for our accelerated investment, which increased 9.3 per cent to €6.5 billion, in order to offer our customers the best networks and services, as well as the strong mobilisation of our teams.”
“We also continued to develop our international presence during 2015, in line with our strategy. In Europe, our focus remains on fixed-mobile convergence, as in Spain where the integration of Jazztel has exceeded our objectives and has enabled us to create the most dynamic convergent operator in the market. As for the Africa and Middle East region, this represents a growth area for us and one in which we continue to develop and invest through our new holding company, Orange Middle East & Africa. This can be seen through our increased participation in Médi Telecom in Morocco and our recent acquisition projects in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
“Strengthened by our strategy and the commitment of our teams, we intend to continue this good momentum, targeting further growth in restated EBITDA in 2016 on a comparable basis.”