Numericable-SFR Sales Drop as Users Exit Amid High-End Focus

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Numericable-SFR SAS’s quarterly sales fell as it lost mobile and Internet customers amid a refocus on high-end service plans -- a strategy by billionaire owner Patrick Drahi to fight a price war in the French market.

Second-quarter revenue fell 2.4 percent to 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion), the company said Wednesday. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 19 percent to 1.06 billion euros, while net income was 79 million euros after a loss a year earlier.

Cable tycoon Drahi took over SFR about eight months ago and merged it with his Numericable to add wireless services. With competition pushing phone bills lower in France, Drahi this year sought to take over rival Bouygues Telecom but was rebuffed by owner Bouygues SA. Now Numericable-SFR is offering the latest high-speed network technology in a bid to charge more amid competition from Orange SA and discounter Iliad SA.

Drahi’s holding company Altice SA, Numericable-SFR’s parent, reported a 2 percent decline in second-quarter sales to

3.9 billion euros. Ebitda rose 13 percent to 1.5 billion euros. Altice also owns operations in Portugal, Israel and the Dominican Republic.

Numericable-SFR had 12.5 million mobile subscribers at the end of the second quarter, down from 12.9 million in the end of the previous quarter. The number of fixed-line customers fell to

6.4 million from 6.5 million.

Larger rival Orange yesterday reported sales and earnings exceeding analysts’ estimates as broadband revenue rose and wireless sales dropped at a slower pace.

Shares of Numericable-SFR have gained 20 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 21.6 billion euros. Altice has added 76 percent for a value of 28.4 billion euros.

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