French operators Bouygues Telecom and SFR have reported minor improvements in their third-quarter results, but still trail low-cost rival Groupe Iliad which registered a 15 percent rise in sales. 
 
Although Bouygues saw revenues continue their decline – they fell 9.3 percent to €1.2 billion – profitability improved in the third quarter thanks to continued cost-cutting.
 
Net profit rose by 26 percent to €360 million, while EBITDA rose four percent.
 
The country’s third largest operator said a transformation plan implemented in early 2012 has exceeded its target of saving €400 million in mobile costs, achieving savings of €455 million by the end of September 2013 from the end of 2011.
 
It will hope the commercial launch of its 4G LTE service last month will boost performance moving forward.
 
Like Bouygues, France’s second largest operator SFR has struggled to compete with Iliad since its launch in January 2012.
SFR saw revenues fall by 8.7 percent to €2.5 billion between July and September, while EBITDA decreased by 37.8 percent to just €334 million.
 
However, the operator said it had recorded its best sales performance since Q4 2011 in the “mass market postpaid voice customer market” as its customer base reached 17.7 million – an increase of 7.8 percent.
 
Further, the decease in EBITDA had slowed, it added.
 
In September, SFR’s parent company Vivendi said that it is considering plans to split the struggling telecoms company from its main business in an effort to "refocus" for the future.
 
The firm also signed an agreement this month to sell its 53 percent shareholding in Morocco's leading telecommunications player Maroc Telecom to the UAE's Etislat for €4.2 billion in cash.
 
Meanwhile, Iliad posted a 15 percent rise in Q3 sales to €944.2 million as mobile revenues surged 35 percent and those from fixed-line services were up by 7.2 percent.
 
The operator also said that 640,000 new customers were added in the quarter, giving the group an 11 percent share of the French mobile market with a total of 7.44 million mobile subscribers.
 
It was the slowest quarterly increase in customers for Iliad, although the third quarter is traditionally a slower period.
 
Last month, market leader Orange announced revenues fell four percent in Q3.

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