By Nick Kostov
PARIS--Orange SA said Tuesday that revenue rose 3.5% in first quarter, boosted by a return to revenue growth in Spain and higher sales to companies.
France's largest telecom company said revenue rose to 10 billion euros ($11.26 billion) in the three months ended March as a price war in the French telecom operator's home market continued to show signs of easing.
That helped push up first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, by 1.9% to EUR2.57 billion, slightly below the expectation of analysts polled by FactSet.
"For the third consecutive quarter, Orange revenues have grown, again validating our strategy of differentiation through quality and investment," said Stephane Richard, chairman and chief executive of Orange.
France's former telecoms monopoly tried unsuccessfully to negotiate the purchase of Bouygues SA's telecommunications unit in recent months in a deal that would have consolidated a sector that has seen its profitability eroded by a fierce price war since 2012.
The talks collapsed amid disagreements with the French government over the size of the stake Bouygues could build up in Orange and the risks associated with trying to get the deal, valued as high as EUR10 billion, approved by the country's competition authorities.
"We always said we were the ones that least needed consolidation in France and that remains true," Orange Chief Financial Officer Ramon Fernandez told reporters.
Revenue in France fell 0.7% to EUR4.69 billion in the three months, although the mobile revenue trend improved on the previous quarter.
Elsewhere in Europe, Orange said revenue grew 0.4%, boosted by Spain, Belgium and Romania.
Orange confirmed its full-year target of posting higher Ebitda in 2016 than in 2015 on a comparable basis.
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