While the telecoms sector (mainly represented by Telefónica) is very attractive for investors, “looming pressure on returns” is clouding investor interest in the utilities.
Telefonica has reached an agreement with Vodafone which will allow the latter to access its fibre optic network both in non-regulated areas (the 66 most populated cities in which Telefonica is not obliged to share its infrastructure) as well as in a significant part of the regulated zones.
Telefonica posted profit of 2.369 billion euros in 2016, up 3.8% from a year earlier. Last year’s figure reflected non-recurrent items, mainly a 1.290 billion euros charge in the fourth quarter related to restructuring costs. Excluding that charge, profits rose 4.8% to 4.038 billion euros year-on-year.
Telefonica has presented on Thursday its first half results. These have highlighted the new contribution from its O2 UK subsidiary, which returns to the multinational’s permiter after five quarters on the outside. Revenues in the UK during H1’16 reached 3,464 million euros against 25,235 in the consolidated group. Meanwhile, Telefonica’s frustrated attempt to sell its UK unit O2 to Hutchison is beginning to have consequences.
Telefonica’s leadership changes have favoured the company’s stock price. On Wednesday, for the second day in a row, the share price outperformed the Ibex, closing just over the 10 euros level.
If Telefonica approves the choice of current CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete to replace Cesar Alierta as Chairman, he will be the first Executive Chairman not to be appointed by the Spanish government. Alvarez-Pallete will face two main challenges: securing European Commission approval for the sale of O2 and dealing with the weakness of the LatAm economies, particularly Brazil.
Telefónica’s Board of Directors will consider the appointment of José María Álvarez-Pallete as the company’s new Executive Chairman at its next meeting on April 8th. The proposal has been made by current Chief Executive César Alierta, who believes Álvarez-Pallete is the best prepared executive to face the challenges of the digital revolution.
The sale of Telefonica’s O2 to Hong Kong telecoms giant Hutchison remains up in the air. And the European Commission (EC), which has the final responsibility for the outcome of the transaction, is still being a dog in a manger, under pressure from the UK authorities.
French telecoms operator Orange got the green light from the regulatory authorities to sell its 50% stake in Everything Everywhere (EE) to British Telecom (BT). But it seems UK regulator Ofcom is now prepared to use all the means at its disposal to block the merger between Three and O2 UK (Hutchison-Telefonica).