Double demand for 4G may push EE towards float

SMARTPHONE demand boosted the results of Britain’s largest mobile operator EE in the first six months of the year, increasing the likelihood that it could be floated later in 2013.

EE yesterday posted a 9.1 per cent increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) to £734m for the six months to June, with strong margin improvement as demand for smartphones – particularly those with 4G services – soared.

Chief executive Olaf Swantee said that Orange, one of its joint owners, may say more on the prospect of launching an initial public offering (IPO) for EE when it reports today.

And Swantee told City A.M. the firm is targeting one million 4G customers by the end of the year, adding that shareholders are still reviewing their options and may even decide to keep the current structure.

EE is not hiring an adviser for a potential IPO, he insisted.

The number of EE customers on its 4G network reached 687,000 by the end of June, the company said.

“We’ve doubled the rate at which we’re adding 4G customers and doubled our 4G speeds across 15 cities,” Swantee said

• Carphone Warehouse has also been boosted by strong smartphone demand, yesterday posting a 10.6 per cent increase in like-for-like sales over the first quarter compared with analyst forecasts of eight per cent. The firm benefitted from customers choosing longer contracts and smartphones.