UPDATE 2-New subscribers fuel 50% profit growth for Iliad in France

* Sales of more than 8 billion euros expected in 2022 – CEO

* Group close to network sharing agreement with Wind Tre in Italy – CEO (add comments from CEO)

By Sarah Morland and Mathieu Rosemain

March 22 (Reuters) – French telecommunications company Iliad on Tuesday posted a 51% rise in its base profit as it added subscribers in its markets in France, Italy and Poland amid stiff competition that could lead to a consolidation of the sector.

The company, which founder Xavier Niel took private last year, reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for 2021 after leases of 2.95 billion euros ($3.23 billion). dollars), 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.

Total revenue increased by 29% to 7.6 billion euros. The group is confident of crossing the 8 billion euro mark in 2022, chief executive Thomas Reynaud said in a call.

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

Reynaud has confirmed that Iliad is close to securing a network sharing deal in Italy with rival Wind Tre. The agreement would cover 7,000 mobile sites and just over 60% of Italian territory, he said.

As part of the deal, Iliad would buy a 50% stake in a newly created network unit, which would be structured as a 50-50 joint venture, sources familiar with the matter said last week.

The deal would come after Britain’s Vodafone pushed back on the company’s €11 billion approach for its local unit.

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

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 Kirsten Donovan and Mark Potter)