Booming Telenor picks up investment pace

Booming Telenor picks up investment pace
Photo - Telenor
Norwegian telecom operator Telenor on Wednesday posted a 32-percent rise in 2012 profits and said it would increase its investment pace this year, primarily in the lucrative data traffic sector.

"We now see the opportunity to accelerate investments to capture market positions and expect a (capital expenditure to sales ratio) in the range of 12-14 percent," chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas said.

In 2012, the operator spent about 12.1 percent of sales on investments,excluding licence and spectrum acquisitions.

As fixed telephony declines and competition in the mobile phone sectorintensifies, Telenor is increasingly focusing on high-speed Internet and data traffic for its main revenue.

In its home market Norway, which has been close to saturation for a longtime, "data traffic is perhaps the most important thing for it to continue to grow," Carnegie analyst Espen Toergersen told Norwegian television.

After launching fourth generation services in Norway last year, Telenor nowplans to do the same in Denmark in March.

The company said it expects organic sales growth of three to five percentin 2013, and a gross operating margin of around 34 percent.

For the full-year 2012, net profit rose to 9.49 billion kroner (1.29billion euros, $1.73 billion), owing primarily to favourable tax items.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amoritisation (EBITDA) roseby six percent, to 31.89 billion, while sales climbed 3.3 percent to 101.72 billion.

With some 148 million subscribers, Telenor is one of the world's biggest mobile telephony operators, offering services in a dozen countries in Europe and Asia, and in a number of others via its 37.5 percent share of Russian operator Vimpelcom.

"What's positive is that this is an operator that continues to grow, in contrast to many other competitors in Europe," Torgersen said.

"It's well-positioned in Asia, where the growth outlook is good," he added.

Last year, Telenor re-established itself in India, buying back licences insix regions. It was among eight mobile operators whose licences had been cancelled by India's Supreme Court earlier on grounds that a 2008 licence sale was under-priced.

Telenor's costly presence on the highly-competitive market has beencriticised by analysts. 

In the fourth quarter alone, its Indian unit registered an EBITDA lossbefore interest, tax, depreciation and amoritisation of 444 million kroner, but aims to break even in 2013.

The Telenor share was up by 2.85 percent in mid-afternoon trading on a largely flat Oslo exchange.

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