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Vodafone Australia records AU$800m loss

Vodafone Australia's parent company Hutchison has revealed that the troubled company lost AU$817.6 million in 2012.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Vodafone Hutchison Australia's (VHA) 50 percent owner Hutchison Telecoms has revealed the extent of the company's financial woes in 2012, recording a total loss of AU$817.6 million.

The report revealed that in the 12 months to December 31, 2012, Vodafone lost 443,000 customers and saw customer revenue decrease by 16.8 percent year on year to AU$1.7 billion.

The numbers confirm the details released by Vodafone Australia's other owner, Vodafone Group, earlier this month. Including resellers, Vodafone's customer base now stands at 6.6 million.

Vodafone has been working to turn around its fortunes, and in 2012, the company completed an overhaul of its 3G network, and has now rolled out DC-HSPA+ or "3G+" to 60 percent of the Vodafone network. Vodafone also reported that call dropouts have reduced by one third in metro areas, and complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) decreased by 37 percent in 2012.

The company has AU$1.6 billion worth of borrowings due for repayment in June this year, and the telecommunications company is in discussions to refinance the loan, with both parent companies committing to providing funding for Vodafone's network improvements.

Vodafone is also due to launch its 4G network sometime this year, with the company beginning to test out its network in parts of Sydney.

Hutchison's chairman Channing Fok said that Vodafone Australia's turnaround plan has the full support of Hutchison and Vodafone Group.

"VHA is implementing a turnaround plan with the full support of both its shareholders, and has made meaningful inroads to stabilising customer numbers and financial performance. Although continuing losses are anticipated in 2013, [Hutchison] expects improvements in VHA's performance through the year and into 2014."

The results come as law firm Piper Alderman is set to announce this morning that it will commence a class-action lawsuit against Vodafone over its 3G network problems stemming back to 2010. Despite initially indicating that it would only take 10 business days to assess the case, the firm took over two years to put together its suit against the telecommunications company, after getting over 20,000 customers to express interest in pursuing action against Vodafone.

Vodafone said that it was aware that "a law firm which is known for promoting class actions" was repeating its plans to proceed with action against the telco, but said that the firm had not contacted Vodafone since 2010, or provided Vodafone with any of the details of the class action.

"Vodafone would like to hear from any customer who has encountered difficulties with the network and we encourage customers, past and current, to contact us directly so that we can discuss ways to resolve any concerns they have," Vodafone said in a statement.

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