Orange marked its first growth in underlying sales for four years, as its new strategic plan kicked off in earnest.

Like for like revenues in its second quarter were up 0.4 percent to €9.9 billion in the three months to June, with small losses in Europe offset by growth in Africa and the Middle East. Including regulatory effects, the figure represented a decline of 0.2 percent.

Earnings also saw marginal growth, increasing 0.9 percent to €3.3 billion. Again, with regulatory measures considered, this was a fall of 0.4 percent compared to Q2 2014.

The figures mark the first time the France-based telco has seen sales increase as it battles against increasing pressure from low-cost rivals such as Iliad’s Free.

The operator has been ploughing investment into fibre technology in an attempt to reclaim its sway in the European telecoms market under its Essentials 2020 strategy.

The result saw Orange make capex in the region of €1.5 billion in Q2 alone, a year-on-year growth of 9.5 percent.

According to Orange, investment in fibre increased by nearly three-quarters during H1 after it deployed close to 500,000 new connections, mainly in France and Europe.

The operator said it now has 966,000 fibre subscribers, a rise of over 95 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the number of mobile subscribers rose 6.9 percent to 190 million in H1.

While it had an encouraging Q2, underlying revenues were flat at €19.5 billion in the first six months of 2015. EBITDA was also flat at €5.8 billion as sales decreased slightly in France, Spain, Poland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Africa and the Middle East continued to prove the strongest performers. Sales increased 5.6 percent to €2.3 billion after customer numbers grew 12.4 percent to 102 million. The operator said Orange Money had 14.2 million customers at the end of June after growing 37 percent year on year

[Read more: Orange Money signs up 10 millionth customer]

This week, Orange increased its share in Moroccan telco Méditel as part of an attempt to realise revenue and EBITDA growth in excess of 20 percent in the region by 2018.

CEO Stéphane Richard said Orange had “delivered a very good commercial performance”.

Richard said: “We are particularly pleased with these results which mark a return to revenue growth in the second quarter, excluding regulation, for the first time since 2011.

“This dynamic commercial activity is underpinned by significant investment in very high-speed fixed and mobile broadband and the Orange team’s daily commitment to our customers, both of which form part of our Essentials2020 strategic plan.

“Through these efforts, we now have more than 12 million 4G customers in Europe and have doubled our level of acquisition of fixed broadband customers in France thanks to fibre. Combined with the continued reduction of our cost structure, this performance has enabled us to stabilise our margin in the first half, excluding regulatory impacts, and even show slight growth in the second quarter.”

“At the same time, we continue to pursue our efforts to optimise our portfolio of operations.”

 

 

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