WIND Mobile Subscribers Top 702,000, But Parent Company Still Looking to Sell
Vimpelcom has announced its Q1 2014 earnings for its Canadian investment WIND Mobile, which saw an increase of 25,916 net subscribers, bringing its total active subscriber base to 702,125. Average revenue per user (ARPU) increased 12 percent compared to the year ago quarter to hit $31, which the company called its ‘best quarter ever’.
WIND Mobile released the following statement on today’s earnings release:
“It’s been a tremendous start to the year for WIND Mobile and we’re very pleased to report that we’ve experienced our best quarter ever. Not only have we surpassed the 700,000 active customer mark, with a 17 per cent growth in subscribers, but our ARPU has grown 12 per cent to $31.00. We have no doubt that 2014 will be a great year for WIND. We have started this year strong thanks to industry firsts including being the first Canadian telecommunications company to offer U.S. unlimited roaming and we will continue to provide Canadians with the value, simplicity and true mobile freedom they have come to expect from WIND Mobile, while we continue our growth as Canada’s fourth national carrier.”
The company says it continues to lead “real unlimited” and “no contract” offers in Canada, helped in party by managed subsidies and what it calls value plus positioning. It also highlighted how it’s the first carrier in the country to offer unlimited U.S. roaming for a $15/month add-on.
WIND Mobile now has 310 retail properties nationwide and has continued to improve its network, which has 1,385 sites on air, with various upgrades.
WIND Mobile Still Looking for an Exit According to VimpelCom
Despite the growth in its Q1 2014, Vimplecom, the parent company of WIND Mobile which is owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, still is looking for an exit strategy for its Canadian investment, reports the Financial Post, citing a Bloomberg interview with VimpelCom’s chief executive Jo Lunder:
“What’s going on in Canada, I think, is very simple. We decided not to participate in the 700 auction early in the year because there was no clear path to control. At the same time, we have written off $1.5-billion of investments in Canada over the last couple of years,” he said. “And for that reason… we have no intention really to put any more funding into Canada at this point.”
“For that reason, we are now having different discussions with different players in that market to either sell it or to combine it with others and take a smaller position in a larger entity,”
Lunder also said in the interview VimpelCom may sell WIND Mobile or “swap it for stake in larger operator working in the country,” which confused Dvai Ghose, head of research at Canaccord Genuity, who believes the latter was referring to a potential deal with Quebecor rather than the ‘Big 3’, since the Federal Government would most likely not approve a sale to incumbents. Back in March, VimpelCom took a $0 write down on its Canadian investment.
Ghose also stated WIND’s ARPU of $31 pales in comparison to the $59 average from Rogers, Telus and Bell, which may be attributed to the smaller carrier’s lack of the iPhone and its discount pricing.