Vodafone falls to loss as European troubles mount

VODAFONE swung to a shock loss in the first six months of the financial year, the mobile telecoms giant revealed yesterday, as recessions in southern Europe hit its bottom line.

The firm’s shares fell four per cent to yearly lows, with the group’s performance missing forecasts.

The fall came despite the firm announcing a share buyback programme using money from its US joint venture Verizon Wireless, which said on Monday night it would pay Vodafone $3.8bn (£2.4bn) in dividends this year.

Vodafone wrote off £5.9bn from its Spanish and Italian businesses yesterday as it said service revenues from its southern European businesses had declined by 10 per cent.

The company posted a £1.9bn loss in the half-year period, after a £6.6bn profit in the same period last year. Total revenue declined by 7.4 per cent to £21.8bn.

“In the short-term, our results reflect tougher market conditions,” the company’s chief executive Vittorio Colao said, although he also said he was “positive about the longer-term opportunities”.

The UK business turnover fell 3.2 per cent, although it migrated more people onto lucrative pay-monthly smartphone contracts.