EBITDA (operating profit before depreciation, amortization and write-downs) in the first quarter of 2004 amounted to NOK 5,016 million. This is NOK 839 million more than in the first quarter last year. The EBITDA margin increased from 33.1 to 35.1 per cent.
In the first quarter of 2004, Telenor sold its remaining 9 per cent ownership interest in Cosmote for NOK 3.1 billion. This resulted in a gain of NOK 2.6 billion before tax.
Capital expenditure increased in the first quarter this year to NOK 1,471 million, compared to NOK 1,230 million in the first quarter last year. The increase was in Mobile. Net interest-bearing liabilities totalled NOK 19.3 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2004. This is an increase of NOK 1.5 billion from the end of 2003, mainly due to the acquisition of the remaining 46.5 per cent shares in Sonofon, partially offset by the sale of the shares in Cosmote.
In spite of strong and increasing competition in the Norwegian market for mobile and fixed-line telephony, at the end of the first quarter of 2004 Telenor had an estimated market share of 56 per cent for mobile services, measured in the number of subscriptions. At the beginning of the year this share was 57 per cent. The market share for fixed-line telephony was stable at 69 per cent, measured in traffic minutes. The number of ADSL subscriptions increased considerably, and was 208,000 at the end of the first quarter of 2004. This is 31,000 more than at the end of 2003.
In Mobile, EBITDA increased by NOK 621 million in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the first quarter of 2003, to NOK 2,816 million. The EBITDA margin in Mobile decreased during the same period by 1.7 percentage points to 39.0 per cent, due to lower margins in the Norwegian mobile operations and the consolidation of Sonofon.
In Fixed, the EBITDA margin increased by 1.2 percentage points to 32.8 per cent, and EBITDA increased by NOK 28 million to NOK 1,620 million. In Fixed-Norway, the EBITDA margin increased by 1.4 percentage points to 36.1 per cent.
Broadcast had an operating profit of NOK 110 million in the first quarter of 2004 compared to a loss in the first quarter last year.
"We are happy to note that all of our business areas are now showing increased EBITDA," says Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO. "We expect continued growth in revenues, driven by the international mobile operations and the consolidation of Sonofon. Overall, we also expect a positive development in Telenor's results for the year compared to 2003, while capital expenditure is expected to be higher than last year. As part of the work to improve operational efficiency, we are pleased that in the first quarter we reached an agreement, which will lead to a concentration of the Telenor group's IT operations in EDB Business Partner and that we have signed a 7-year agreement with Accenture for application development. The acquisition of the remaining shares in Sonofon and the establishment of an overall managerial responsibility for the mobile activities in the Nordic region was an important strategic move in the first quarter which will give Telenor's Nordic mobile effort increased strength and efficiency," says Baksaas, who also points out that Telenor's international efforts will continue, exemplified by the group now owning a license to build a mobile network in Pakistan.
Dag Melgaard, Press spokesman, tel.: (+47) 67 89 26 71 or (+47) 90 19 20 00
To editorial offices:
Press and analyst conference
In connection with the quarterly results, a press and analyst conference will be held in the Telenor Expo auditorium at Fornebu, Norway on Wednesday 5 May at 9:00 AM local Norwegian time. Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO, Arve Johansen, Senior Executive Vice President, and Torstein Moland, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer will present the results in more detail. The presentation will be given in English.
The press and analyst conference will be streamed over the Internet, both as a live transmission and as a recording after the conference, on www.telenor.com/ir.
The press and analyst conference can also be followed by telephone, with the possibility to ask questions immediately following the presentation and question round in the auditorium. Phone in well in advance to: (+47) 800 80 119 (from Norway) or (+47) 23 00 04 00 (from abroad).
The entire quarterly report and the presentations used during the press and analyst conference will be made available on www.telenor.com/ir