As expected, the European Commission has proposed further roaming regulation initiatives yesterday.
By 2014, the retail price caps for voice calls made would go to 24 cents by mid-2014 from 32 cents currently, while the cap on received voice calls would go to 10 cents from 11 cents currently. For SMSs the price cap would go to 10 cents from 11 cents now. The proposed mobile data roaming rates (50 cents per Mb versus unregulated now) were already disclosed by the FT earlier this week. Also the wholesale price caps will be further reduced.
The EC also wants to make it possible for customers to choose the mobile operator they want to use when travelling abroad (now the customer’s provider makes that choice), in order to stimulate competition and lower prices.
The EC proposal still needs to be endorsed by the EU governments and the European Parliament.
We believe the impact of the initiative on Mobistar will remain limited. Roaming represented about 11% of Mobistar’s revenues last year, and we arrive at a maximum gross impact of about 3.5% of sales and 5% to 6% of EBITDA, between now and mid 2014 (i.e. spread over several years). Moreover, taking into account elasticity (more usage because of lower tariffs), the net impact should even be more limited.
Further roaming rate cuts obviously won’t help Mobistar’s business that is already under pressure, but the impact will remain quite limited we estimate, and we believe Mobistar has bigger challenges, especially in terms of trying to limit market share losses due to the growing success of bundled offers from Telenet, and VOO. During its analyst day, for example indicated that 29% of the Packs it sold in 1Q11 included mobile telephony as well. This shows that more and more, consumers also take mobile as part of a bundle (quadruple play) whereas previously bundles mainly consisted of TV, broadband and fixed telephony (triple play). This is obviously a worrisome evolution for a mobile-focussed operator like Mobistar.
No changes to our estimates, we reiterate Reduce & € 47 target on Mobistar. The 2Q results will be published on 26 July before market.