Vodafone joint venture partner HTAL posts $285.5 million loss

Vodafone joint venture partner HTAL posts $285.5 million loss

Telco see first increase in customer number since 2010

Vodafone Australia's Chief Executive Officer, Iñaki Berroeta

Vodafone Australia's Chief Executive Officer, Iñaki Berroeta

Vodafone Hutchison Australia's major partner, Hutchison Telecommunications Australia, has posted $285.5 million loss as the telco reports its first lift in customer numbers in almost five years.

Vodafone Hutchison Australia is a 50:50 joint venture between Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Ltd (HTAL) and Vodafone Group Plc.

HTAL announced results for the year ended December 31, 2014.

Vodafone closed the year with 5.3 million customer following an increase in the second half of year - it's first jump in customers since 2010.

Vodafone chief financial officer, James Marsh, said the results were in line with expectations for 2014.

“Our performance is steady, and we’re now in a position where we expect the business to grow,” he said.

“Vodafone has invested heavily in its network and customer service in recent years, and the strategy has paid off with successive months of growth.”

HTAL reported a $285.5 million loss compared with a $230 million loss the previous year.

This includes accelerated depreciation on network assets, which have seen heavy investment in recent years as part of the business’s strategic plan to build an expanded and resilient network.

While Vodafone’s total revenue in 2014 was relatively flat, customer service revenue decreased by 8.8 per cent, reflecting customer losses in 2013 and the reductions in the inter-carrier Mobile Terminating Access Service price as determined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Marsh said the the decline in customer revenue for 2014 reflected customer losses in 2013.

"But we’re confident we’ve now reversed that and we expect to see customer numbers continue to grow in 2015.”

He said Vodafone had made steady improvements over the past year following a strong focus on its customer service and network excellence.

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Significant milestones reached include the expansion of its 4G network to reach 95 per cent of the Australian metropolitan population, the signing of a new three-year contract to build a new core network, a strong rise in its customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) and a significant reduction in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (38 per cent).

Marsh said customers’ appetite for data continued to double year.

"We have a reputation for offering the most generous data inclusions of any mobile provider,” he said.

“Last year we introduced plans to stop bill shock, which include automated $10 data top-ups each 1GB data.

Read more: Vodafone Australia service revenue and customers take a dip

"This allows our customers to use their data with confidence, not fear, and as a result, data usage is growing, along with our customer satisfaction."

Vodafone chief executive, Inaki Berroeta, said last week that 2015 marked the next phase for Vodafone with a new three-year strategic plan endorsed by both of its shareholders.

This includes continued investment in infrastructure, customer service and innovative products, expansion of its premium content partnerships (which already include Spotify and Fairfax Media), and a significant retail expansion.

“2015 is about growth for Vodafone,” said Marsh, “and we are beginning the year with great momentum.”

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