ECONOMY

Vodafone users mount

Vodafone Panafon yesterday reported better-than-expected subscriber numbers for the first three months of the year, as innovative products and a marketing tie-in with retail chain Germanos helped to attract customers. The mobile phone company increased its subscribers by 14.1 percent to 3.38 million at the end of March. Market leader CosmOTE early this month announced a total of 3.64 million users, up 18.4 percent. «Vodafon Panafon’s subscriber numbers were better than expected. Seems like the company is gaining momentum,» said Constantinos Karitsos, telecoms analyst at Kappa Securities, indicating that the operator was starting to reverse its market share losses in the last four years. «The increase in contract net additions was very impressive,» said Karitsos. Contract net additions rose 88.4 percent to 68,312 and prepay users by 38.4 percent to 95,736, lifting total net additions in the first quarter to 164,048. A clear pricing policy has been critical to Vodafon Panafon’s success, Karitsos noted. «Innovative products have also helped,» he said, citing the launch of Vodafone live! camera-phone services last month. A marketing tie-in with Germanos, a chain of 300 outlets selling mobile phone accessories and batteries, in January also proved to be a strong drawing card. Contract customers at the end of March rose 19.3 percent to 978,751 and prepay users by 12.1 percent to 2.4 million. In Albania, where the company competes with CosmOTE subsidiary AMC, the total customer base jumped to 391,057 on the back of 42,045 new additions. With its strong momentum and increased market share, Vodafone (Albania) could surpass AMC later this year or early 2004, said Karitsos. Vodafone Panafon shares rose 1.1 percent yesterday to close at 5.52 euros.