Proximus Group ended the year 2015 with total underlying revenue of EUR 5,994, 2.2% up from the prior year. This excludes the impact from incidentals , which had especially a favorable impact on the 2014 revenue.
The positive evolution of the Group underlying revenue resulted from both Proximus’ core operations as well as from BICS, Proximus’ International Carrier business unit.
For full-year 2015, the Proximus Core revenue totaled EUR 4,379 million, a 2.1% improvement from 2014. The revenue growth was for a large part driven by Proximus’ Consumer Business Unit (CBU), which posted 3.0% underlying revenue growth for 2015. This was driven by solid revenue from Fixed products through a growing customer base for Fixed Internet and TV, as well as by the growing revenue from Mobile services. Proximus benefitted from its great efforts on customer centricity and its convergence strategy. By offering customers multi-play products it increased the loyalty and value of its customer base. Proximus’ Luxembourgish subsidiary Tango too closed a solid year, growing its revenue in 2015 by 11.1%.
Proximus’ Enterprise business unit (EBU) saw its revenue increasing by 2.1% to a total of EUR 1,338 million. Especially revenue from Mobile services enhanced from the prior year, adding 5.6% on a growing customer base and favorable ARPU trend, while the underlying ICT revenue was up by 2.3%.
The above favorable trends of Proximus’ Core revenue was partly offset by a 8.9% decrease in Wholesale revenue, mainly due to an ongoing decrease in volumes from the traditional wholesale business, accelerated by the outphasing of “Snow” following the decision of Base to stop their Fixed triple-play offer.
The larger part of the former Snow customers opted however for Scarlet in the first-half of 2015. Therefore, the resulting reduction in Wholesale lines was largely compensated for through Proximus retail offer.
BICS generated in 2015 total revenue of EUR 1,616 million, 2.5% more than for the prior year. Continuously growing revenue from non-voice and a positive USD currency impact more than offset the pressure on Voice revenue due to lower volumes.
Revenue (in m€)
The 2015 underlying Direct Margin of Proximus Group totaled EUR 3,617 million, a 2.4% increase from the prior year. This favorable evolution was driven by both the Core operations of Proximus and by BICS. With the increase in Core revenue mainly resulting from higher margin Fixed and Mobile services, the Direct Margin of the Core business improved by 1.6% versus the prior year to reach EUR 3,340 million.
In addition, BICS’ Direct Margin for 2015 totaled a strong EUR 278 million, 13.3% above that of the previous year, resulting from both a favorable variance for Voice and non-Voice.
Direct Margin (in m€)
Net of incidentals, the Proximus Group posted for 2015 underlying EBITDA of EUR 1,733 million, an increase 4.9% compared to 2014. The Core operations of Proximus grew EBITDA by 3.6% to a total of EUR 1,573 million. Especially the Consumer segment closed a strong 2015, posting a 3.5% growth in its segment result. The Enterprise Business Unit too closed the year 2015 on a positive note, growing its Segment Result by 2.2%. BICS closed a very strong 2015, with its Segment Result totaling EUR 160 million, 19.1% above that of the previous year.
EBITDA (in m€)
The invested amount over the year 2015 was EUR 926 million for the Proximus Group, or EUR 1,002 million including EUR 75 million Capex for the renewal of the 900Mhz/1800Mhz spectrum. This compares to EUR 978 million for 2014, excluding EUR 16 million spectrum Capex, yet including the three-year broadcasting rights of Belgian Jupiler Pro league football capitalized in 2014.
Capex (in m€)
Free Cash Flow
Over the full-year 2015, the Free Cash Flow of Proximus Group totaled EUR 408 million. This compares to a Free Cash Flow of EUR 711 million generated in 2014. Year-on-Year, the positive impact from the higher underlying EBITDA was more than offset by less cash received from the sale of consolidated companies and buildings, the payment of a litigation settlement the acquisition of non-controlling interests, higher cash used for working capital and higher cash paid for Capex.
Free Cash Flow (in m€)
The Proximus share and dividend
Proximus share performance
In 2015, the Telecom Sector (SXKP) delivered 24% more return than the wider European index (SXXP).
After an impressive 2014 during which the Proximus share increased by 40%, the year 2015 was closed at a fairly stable EUR 30.0, 0.3% lower versus a year ago. This compares to a 13% increase for the BEL-20, and a gain of 8% for the SXKP and 7% for the SXXP.
In 2015, market performance was volatile driven by macro-economic challenges in Greece and then in China, heavy M&A activity in the industry with ongoing rumors of Liberty/Vodafone and other structuring deals, including the end of the Danish consolidation due to the EU commission heavy remedies. The market volatility was further fuelled by a potential stronger competitive environment in Belgium with the acquisition of Base by Telenet, the announcement of Mobistar’s entry in the fixed market, and adverse regulatory news with the EU decision to impose Roam-Like-At-Home.
Proximus share ownership
Proximus’ main shareholder is the Belgian Government, owning 53.51% of the company’s shares. Proximus itself held 4.74% of its own shares end-2015. The free float represented 41.75%.
Of the shares in free float, about 20% are held by retail investors and the remainder essentially by institutional shareholders. Proximus’ main institutional shareholders are located in the United States and the United Kingdom followed by Benelux and Germany.
Shareholder return policy
Proximus commits to an attractive shareholder remuneration policy by returning, in principle, most of its annual free cash flow to its shareholders.
The return of free cash flow either through dividends or share buybacks will be reviewed on an annual basis in order to keep strategic financial flexibility for future growth, organically or via selective M&A, with a clear focus on value creation. This also includes confirming appropriate levels of distributable reserves.
The shareholder remuneration policy is based on a number of assumptions regarding future business and market evolutions, and may be subject to change in case of unforeseen risks or events outside the company’s control.
Shareholder return from the financial year 2015
On 25 February 2016, the Board of Directors decided to propose an ordinary dividend of EUR 1.00 per share to the Annual Shareholder Meeting of 20 April 2016. As a result, Proximus expects a dividend of EUR 1.50 gross per share for the 2015 full-year results. After approval by the Annual Shareholder Meeting, the normal dividend will be paid on 29 April 2016, with record date on 28 April 2016 and ex-dividend date on 27 April 2016.
This brings the total declared dividend over the result of 2015 to EUR 490 million.
Furthermore, Proximus’ Board of Directors intends to continue to award Proximus’ shareholders with an attractive and sustainable dividend. Therefore the Board of Directors reaffirmed its intention to pay out a stable yearly dividend of EUR 1.50 per share (interim dividend of EUR 0.50 and ordinary dividend of EUR 1.00) for the next year to come, provided Proximus’ financial performance is in line with its expectations.