Wanadoo's results for the first half of 2002, detailed in the attached note, show that the company is well on track to make its target of positive EBITDA as the loss margin has been cut by half on the Internet side of the business. The targeted revenue increase of 30% also looks plausible as Internet access revenues have done well in France due to migration of the subscriber base to higher priced broadband packages. Wanadoo hopes to have 1 million broadband subscribers by the end of the year, and is counting on the rollout of a new lower speed (128k) and lower-priced broadband package in mid-October. The French Competition Commission has also permitted the company to again market its broadband packs in FT's network of shops, cutting customer acquisition costs. Margins will improve in mid-October due to wholesale broadband price declines mandated by the regulator ART.
We think that the business is worth about €6bn, rather less than the €7-9bn that the investment banks are projecting. The difference arises because we think that they over-estimate the value of Universal’s music publishing business and expect a faster upturn in recorded music sales. But Universal is clearly strongest of the major music companies and we do expect the company’s margins to recover from the low levels seen this year.