France Télécom (FT) has reported a 1.5% rise in underlying Q1 profits on the back of improved cost-control measures and strong demand for internet and media services. The Paris-based giant posted earning before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of EUR4.66 billion (USD6.35 billion) in the three months to 31 March, beating a forecast of EUR4.59 billion in Reuters’ poll of eleven analysts. Consolidated revenues stood at EUR12.84 billion in Q12007, up 1.8% year-on-year on a historical and comparable basis. Turnover was said to be ‘stable’ in Home Communications Services (EUR5.57 billion, down 0.4% on a comparable basis), with gains from broadband ADSL offsetting a decline in traditional voice call services. Growth from Personal Communication Services continued to be strong, rising 4.3% on a comparable basis from EUR6.64 billion to EUR6.93 billion. The Enterprise Communications Services segment was down 2% on a comparable basis at EUR1.89 billion. The operator maintained its key 2007 financial targets which include organic cash flow of EUR6.8 billion and a near stabilisation of its EBITDA margin.
The French telecoms group also announced the departure of Sanjiv Ahuja as head of Orange UK and International, having completed his mission of integrating the Orange business within the group and positioning Orange as the single brand for FT’s converged telecoms services. He will be replaced by Olaf Swantee, former senior vice president of Hewlett-Packard. Ahuja will stay on as non-executive president of Orange UK and International however, and become adviser to FT Chief Executive Didier Lombard. FT will also become a partner in one of Sanjiv Ahuja’s new ventures which will target emerging markets.