Telefónica generates more than US$100M per spectrum return in Mexico
Telefonica, in a financial report sent to the Madrid Stock Exchange, informed its shareholders that between 2017 and 2019 it generated US$191 million from the sale of towers and other assets related to this type of infrastructure in Latin America and that particularly in 2019 it achieved that "positive result" of US$103 million for the spectrum returned to the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) in Mexico.
Telefónica Movistar generated a first positive impact of US$103 million for its Mexican operation by returning various spectrum signals in the 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands to the state; and also confirmed the full return of its frequencies in the 2500 MHz (2.5 GHz) band which was formally awarded in Mexico on November 22nd, 2018.
The company, in a financial report sent to the Madrid Stock Exchange, informed its shareholders that between 2017 and 2019 it generated US$191 million from the sale of towers and other assets related to this type of infrastructure in Latin America and that particularly in 2019 it achieved that "positive result" of US$103 million for the spectrum returned to the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) of Mexico.
Telefónica had paid US$35 million for two national blocks of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band and US$110 million in endorsements for national and regional frequencies in 1.9 GHz, blocks of between ten and 20 MHz of bandwidth.
One year after awarding a section of the 2.5 GHz band, on November 21, 2019, Telefonica informed the IFT its intention to return that spectrum to suit its interests of operational efficiency and this also happened the same day that it made public a deal for shared use of infrastructure with AT&T to generate savings of US$250 million per year from 2022.
On January 1st 2020, the Economist announced that the IFT had officially consented to Movistar's partial return of its frequencies in 1.9 GHz and all 850 MHz and 2.5 GHz signals, thus writing a new chapter in its busy history in which Telefonica had also insisted during the last decade on its prompt bidding in the market to strengthen 4G networks.
"On November 21, 2019, Pegaso PCS notified the IFT of the resignation of its spectrum concessions with the total return of the 2500 MHz band and partial return of Telefonica's spectrum in the 1900 MHz band, of between 10 and 20 MHz in regions 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 (...) In 2019 it includes a positive result of US$103 million corresponding to the return of Telefonica Mexico's licenses with deferred payments that have been exonerated," the company reported.
Movistar repatriates capital from Latin America to Spain The operator also reported a repatriation of US$2.067 billion to the parent company in Spain from all its Latin American subsidiaries, of which US$1.283 billion was the result of dividends and US$784 million from divestments in Central America, mainly; operations that were taken over by Claro de América Móvil and Tigo de Millicom International.
By the end of 2019, the net debt of Movistar's Latin American operations amounted to US$1,362 million and represented 3.3% of the group's overall debt of US$41,053 million.
Coverage obligations with the return of its 2.5 GHz
The return of radio frequencies in the 2.5 GHz band of Movistar to the Mexican State favors the idea that this operator will free the coverage obligations to which it was submitted in 2018 after winning the IFT-7 bid.
In February 2018, the IFT established in the bases of the 2.5 GHz bidding, in its numeral 3.4, that the winners of one or more blocks of that spectrum (Movistar and AT&T) will be subject to offer wireless access services with 3G technology or a more recent one in at least 200 towns of the 557 locations with between 1,000 and 5,000 inhabitants that have not yet been served with a mobile service and the IFT will verify that 80% of the population each of those towns is covered by such services.
The Federal Institute of Telecommunications said then that it will also count for three each population served by operators in Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca under this criterion, the three states in the country where the digital divide is wider; where only an average of 27% of households have a computer connected to the Internet, according to INEGI.
Another obligation for the then 2.5 GHz bidders is to provide 3G or LTE services and superior technologies to the so-called Special Economic Zones and the road sections that connect them; all of which are geographical areas of strategic interest in which the government hopes to generate new industrial development poles.
The last coverage obligation commits participants to offer a wireless service in at least ten of the 13 metropolitan areas with more than 1 million inhabitants, using as support the 2.5 GHz band then already achieved, before the third anniversary of the notification of the winning participant's ruling - September 2021 - and with the deployment of coverage to at least 80% of the population of those urban areas.
In order to comply with the first two coverage obligations that were part of the IFT-7 tender, the Federal Telecommunications Institute left to the discretion of the auction winners the possibility of using their spectrum in the 2.5 GHz and to install their own radio bases, antennas and other technological equipment, or to approach a third party to contract capacity "in another frequency band and/or infrastructure".
Telefónica is evaluating a EUR 10 billion offer for its unit in Latin America, with the exception of Brazil
Although there was no formal proposal, a holding company of companies in the region wants to keep 51% of Telefonica HispAm, which includes operations in Argentina. It plans to go public and keep the Spanish parent company as a partner.
On Monday, Telefónica shares jumped almost 3% on the Madrid Stock Exchange in response to a news item that shook the financial market: a Latin American business group had raised the possibility of investing 10 billion euros in the Spanish multinational's Latin American business unit.
According to the Iberian newspaper El Mundo, a group of businessmen from Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico were interested in this business and are preparing an offer after Telefónica agreed to create a new unit to bring together its assets in the region, including operations in Argentina, in order to attract investors and capture synergies.
The proposal, which comes from Colombia, is at a very early stage, does not contain a concrete amount of investment at the moment and has not yet been closed, according to sources. Telefónica reported that the company does not have any offer on the table in this regard.
Last November, Telefónica's CEO had acknowledged a decline in the regional contribution to the company's growth.
However, it was revealed that the proposal would represent a liquidity contribution for Telefónica of at least 10 billion euros, envisages an IPO and that the Spanish company would remain in the area as a minority partner.
This consortium intends to create a Latin American holding company that would integrate the Telefónica HispAm unit, of which it would keep 51% of the shares of the Spanish multinational's business in the countries where it operates: Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Colombia.
In November last year, Telefónica's CEO, José Álvarez-Pallete, had pointed out that "operations in Latin America were until a few years ago the company's growth engine", but that "the particular conditions in these markets have impacted on the evolution of the business", which reduced "its contribution in recent years for various reasons and despite the enormous efforts of the local teams, which have always shown strong commitment".
Telefónica wants to focus on the countries where it has the greatest presence: Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Brazil.
Telefónica hired the investment bank Morgan Stanley to analyze the alternatives of its business in Latin America, which agreed to open to investors last November following a board meeting in which it approved the new strategic plan that was to focus on the countries where it has the largest presence: Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Brazil.
This Latin American business group is advising the Colombian subsidiary of Cremades & Calvo Sotelo.
In January 2018, the company had already changed its business unit in the region and had separated its organization into two units: Telefónica Hispam Sur with Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay; and Telefónica Hispam Norte: Colombia, Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, and Venezuela.
TELEFÓNICA IN MEXICO SHOWS IMPROVEMENT IN RESULTS
Telefónica in Mexico showed an improvement in its revenues in the first quarter of 2019, something that did not happen since five quarters ago despite the fact that in the last quarter of last year it had reported increases in its mobile clients.
Operating income of Movistar Mexico rose 1.2 percent (organic variation) year-on-year to 296 million euros, despite the competitive intensity of this market. If the reported in euros is taken into account, the increase was 6.8 percent.
Sales were leveraged by better revenues at terminals (+ 24% to 73 million euros) and by improvement in the trend of service revenues of 222 million euros, which although down by 4.5 percent in organic value (rose by 0.7% reported), moderated the fall they had suffered in the last quarter of 2018: -14 percent.
Operating expenses and Oibda were impacted by spectrum commitments at 2.5 GHz and 1,900 MHz (frequencies that the operator acquired last year).
Expenses increased 8.4 percent to 281 million euros. The Oibda decreased 92 percent to 22 million euros, also due to the drop in service revenues and regulation. According to its balance, Telefónica affirms that, without the impacts of spectrum and regulation, the year-on-year fall of Oibda would improve with respect to the previous quarter.
Capital investments were reduced by 11 percent to 12 million euros.
The mobile accesses reached March 31 to 25.5 million, which represents an increase of 1 percent, year against year. Postpaid customers rose 3.2 percent and already represent 9 percent of total mobile subscribers.
In prepaid, accesses rose 0.7 percent to 23 million. In this sense, he collaborated with the "loyalty plan" which aims to increase the loyalty of prepaid customers through bonuses for those who make recurring top-ups. In ARPU it dropped 7 percent to 2.3 euros.
At the end of the quarter, LTE clients grew 29 percent, which represents a penetration of the same percentage of total subscribers. While the population coverage of the 4G service already reached 56 percent. The penetration of the smartphone in this period reached 47 percent of the total of its subscribers.
Movistar, which was a pioneer in launching the fixed Internet service using the mobile network more than a year ago, reached 76 thousand users in this modality, after presenting a net gain of 7 thousand new accesses in the first quarter of 2019.
In this period, the operator also launched Movistar Play, which, added to the launch of the platform in Argentina, boosted video revenues globally, with 900 thousand users in just two months. In Mexico, the platform was launched on March 21.
TELEFÓNICA SELLS THE BUSINESS IN CENTRAL AMERICA
In just over 3 years Telefonica will have reduced its debt by around 13 billion dollars; without counting a potential sale of your business in Mexico.
The announced disinvestments of the Spanish company Telefónica in low-profitability businesses and economies are aimed at reducing its bulky debt compared to the sector.
Today, various media reported that Telefónica closed the sale of 100% of its business in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua to Millicom, an operator based in Luxembourg and whose main brand is Tigo. The operation - still not officially confirmed - would have closed at 1,450 million euros, some 1,639 million dollars.
The sale operation to Millicom, which mainly operates in Latin America and Africa, adds to the recent sale at the end of January of its operations in Guatemala and El Salvador for 570 million euros, to businessman Carlos Slim.
With this successful operation, for an amount much higher than initially estimated, Telefónica closes the sale of all its telecom businesses in Central America and only the Mexican operation remains in the north of the continent. In South America, Telefónica has a profitable business in Brazil, with net profits of 2.155 million euros (about 2.435 million dollars) during 2018, which practically doubled those of the previous year.
The Spanish company faces a bulky debt that on September 30 totaled 42,600 million euros, just over 48 billion dollars; it is the most indebted European telecommunications operator. Although, at the beginning of 2016, its debt was around 50 billion euros.
Investment bankers estimate that sales in Central America and other extraordinary income would put him in a position to reduce his debt below 40 billion euros towards March or April of this year.
The debt reduction plans also include its business in Mexico, which, in the last 3 years (2015 to 2018), has contracted by one third. Now the Mexican business of Telefónica is only superior to that of Ecuador and Uruguay in the continent. Everything seems to be a matter of price.