New subscribers fuel 50% profit growth for Iliad in France

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March 22 (Reuters)French telecoms operator Iliad posted a 51% increase in its base profit on Tuesday as it added subscribers in its markets in France, Italy and Poland amid fierce competition that could lead to a consolidation in the sector.

The company, which founder Xavier Niel took private last year, posted 2021 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) after leases of 2.95 billion euros ($3.23 billion ), compared to 1.96 billion the previous year.

Iliad, which launched its broadband offering in Italy earlier this year, also posted its first annual base profit in the country since entering the mobile market nearly four years ago, at 80 million. euros.

Telcos across Europe have made early forays into what could be a new wave of industry consolidation as operators face heavy investment to expand fiber networks and roll out 5G services.

Iliad is seeking a network-sharing deal in Italy, Reuters reported last week, after Britain’s Vodafone VOD.L pushed back the company’s 11 billion euro approach for its local unit.

The largest operator in the country, Telecom Italia TLIT.MIis considering an offer to buy the American fund KKR KKR.N as the debt-heavy company faces pressure to upgrade its broadband network.

Iliad said it added 439,000 new subscribers in its home market in 2021 and 1.3 million new mobile customers in Italy, despite continued competition described as fierce.

It reported 323,000 additional subscribers in Poland, where it acquired the country’s top mobile operator in 2020, adding that it was also finalizing the purchase of local broadband operator UPC Poland.

($1 = 0.9119 euros)

(Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)

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