Sector spotlight: Dialling up the positivity on telecoms
Insights

Sector spotlight: Dialling up the positivity on telecoms

European telecoms have turned a corner operationally and are in the best financial health for many years. This has led us to upgrade this investment grade sector as an investment proposition, reflecting that its fundamental credit quality is expected to improve in the next few years.

Telecoms remains a capital-intensive business, but after several years of increases peak capex for 5G and fibre in Europe is now behind us (Figure 1) with 5G spending to fall. This will boost businesses’ cash flows and support debt reduction and lower leverage.

Figure 1: Deleveraging driven by falling capex driving stronger cash flows
Deleveraging driven by falling capex driving stronger cash flows

Source: Company accounts, March 2024. *estimated figure

 

In addition, consumers now consider telecom services essential to everyday living and are prepared to pay more for them, particularly given their share of wallet spend remains low. Telecom services are essentially commodity-like (with few differentiating factors), but given the importance of networks post-Covid perception has changed and bills which are typically less than 5% of household budgets can absorb higher prices.

The mergers and acquisitions (M&A) landscape looks eventful for 2024, with two-thirds of European markets still having at least four players within the telecoms sector and the landscape remaining competitive. In-market deals could boost returns on the expectation of lower remedies compared to the past, which will support fundamentals. Merger remedies are used by competition authorities to maintain or restore competition in the market and involve divesting assets (spectrum1 and/or sites), offering capacity from the merged entity to the mobile virtual network operators, and in more negative scenarios allowing a new entrant to the market, which can be disruptive. Italy is one of the best examples where remedies were too harsh and all operators lost market share to the new entrant, Iliad, and lessons have been learnt.

The impact of consolidation should lead to better outcomes for the players involved in more competitive markets, and not be to the detriment of customers. We look to examples in the US where prices didn’t go up and better networks were created for the combining companies following the merger of Sprint Corporation and T-Mobile US. In the Netherlands and Germany, which have more rational markets, consumers got a good deal from T-Mobile and Tele2 (Netherlands) and Telefonica Deutschland and E-Plus (Germany) and profitability has improved for the operators.

Long-term anchor shareholders will play a positive role in firms executing their strategies well, including successful M&A, and overall we see European telecoms as a solid investment.

 

8 April 2024
Arabella Duckworth
Arabella Duckworth
Investment Grade Credit Research
Share article
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Key topics
Related topics
Listen on Stitcher badge
Share article
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Key topics
Related topics

PDF

Sector spotlight: Dialling up the positivity on telecoms

1 Ofcom, What is spectrum? 6 April 2022

Important information

For use by professional clients and/or equivalent investor types in your jurisdiction (not to be used with or passed on to retail clients). For marketing purposes.

 

This document is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered representative of any particular investment. This should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments, or to provide investment advice or services. Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal. Your capital is at risk. Market risk may affect a single issuer, sector of the economy, industry or the market as a whole. The value of investments is not guaranteed, and therefore an investor may not get back the amount invested. International investing involves certain risks and volatility due to potential political, economic or currency fluctuations and different financial and accounting standards. The securities included herein are for illustrative purposes only, subject to change and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell. Securities discussed may or may not prove profitable. The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change and may differ from views expressed by other Columbia Threadneedle Investments (Columbia Threadneedle) associates or affiliates. Actual investments or investment decisions made by Columbia Threadneedle and its affiliates, whether for its own account or on behalf of clients, may not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not take into consideration individual investor circumstances. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Asset classes described may not be suitable for all investors. Past performance does not guarantee future results, and no forecast should be considered a guarantee either. Information and opinions provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This document and its contents have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority.

 

In Australia: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited [“TIS”], ARBN 600 027 414. TIS is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and relies on Class Order 03/1102 in respect of the financial services it provides to wholesale clients in Australia. This document should only be distributed in Australia to “wholesale clients” as defined in Section 761G of the Corporations Act. TIS is regulated in Singapore (Registration number: 201101559W) by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289), which differ from Australian laws.

 

In Singapore: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited, 3 Killiney Road, #07-07, Winsland House 1, Singapore 239519, which is regulated in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289). Registration number: 201101559W. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

 

In Hong Kong: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services Hong Kong Limited 天利投資管理香港有限公司. Unit 3004, Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Hong Kong, which is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) to conduct Type 1 regulated activities (CE:AQA779). Registered in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622), No. 1173058.

 

In Japan: Issued by Columbia Threadneedle Investments Japan Co., Ltd. Financial Instruments Business Operator, The Director-General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No.3281, and a member of Japan Investment Advisers Association and Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association.

 

In the UK: Issued by Threadneedle Asset Management Limited, No. 573204 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, No. 517895, both registered in England and Wales and authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

In the EEA: Issued by Threadneedle Management Luxembourg S.A., registered with the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés (Luxembourg), No. B 110242 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

In Switzerland: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services AG, an unregulated Swiss firm or Columbia Threadneedle Management (Swiss) GmbH, acting as representative office of Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, authorised and regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

 

In the Middle East: This document is distributed by Columbia Threadneedle Investments (ME) Limited, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). For Distributors: This document is intended to provide distributors with information about Group products and services and is not for further distribution. For Institutional Clients: The information in this document is not intended as financial
advice and is only intended for persons with appropriate investment knowledge and who meet the regulatory criteria to be classified as a Professional Client or Market Counterparties and no other Person should act upon it.

 

This document may be made available to you by an affiliated company which is part of the Columbia Threadneedle Investments group of companies: Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited in the UK; Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

Columbia Threadneedle Investments is the global brand name of the Columbia and Threadneedle group of companies.

Related Insights

17 May 2024

Catherine Joint

EM Corporate Research Analyst

Ukrainian corporates are making a comeback – but is it temporary?

Businesses are taking differing approaches to managing their debt, and as we approach the point where paused repayments will resume, markets are looking at the ability of companies to uphold them.
Read time - 3 min
14 May 2024

Fixed Income Desk

In Credit - Weekly Snapshot

In Credit Weekly Snapshot – May 2024

Our fixed income team provide their weekly snapshot of market events.
Read time - 5 min
9 May 2024

Christopher Hult

Portfolio Manager, Fixed income

Paul Smillie

Senior Credit Analyst

Irish banks: a classic turnaround tale... and opportunity

The sector has gone from being one of the riskiest in Europe to among the safest – an excellent example of the situations we look for, and that our deep research and bottom-up approach allows us to benefit from.
Read time - 3 min
22 May 2024

Joanna Tano

Head of Research, Europe, Real Estate (EMEA)

UK Real estate – Overview Q1 2024

Total returns for the UK commercial property market turned positive in Q1 2024.
Read time - 3 min
21 May 2024

Pauline Grange

Portfolio Manager, Global Equities

Water in crisis – searching for solutions

With too much, too little or too toxic water the world is facing a water crisis. We explore key issues and challenges before highlighting some of the companies promoting better water management.
Read time - 3 min
20 May 2024

Rosa Fenwick

Head of Core LDI Portfolio Management

Euro LDI Survey – Q1 2024

In the quarterly Columbia Threadneedle Investments LDI Survey we poll investment bank trading desks on various topical questions around monetary policy and longer-term rate expectations.
Read time - 6 min
true
true

Important information

For use by professional clients and/or equivalent investor types in your jurisdiction (not to be used with or passed on to retail clients). For marketing purposes.

 

This document is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered representative of any particular investment. This should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments, or to provide investment advice or services. Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal. Your capital is at risk. Market risk may affect a single issuer, sector of the economy, industry or the market as a whole. The value of investments is not guaranteed, and therefore an investor may not get back the amount invested. International investing involves certain risks and volatility due to potential political, economic or currency fluctuations and different financial and accounting standards. The securities included herein are for illustrative purposes only, subject to change and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell. Securities discussed may or may not prove profitable. The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change and may differ from views expressed by other Columbia Threadneedle Investments (Columbia Threadneedle) associates or affiliates. Actual investments or investment decisions made by Columbia Threadneedle and its affiliates, whether for its own account or on behalf of clients, may not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not take into consideration individual investor circumstances. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Asset classes described may not be suitable for all investors. Past performance does not guarantee future results, and no forecast should be considered a guarantee either. Information and opinions provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This document and its contents have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority.

 

In Australia: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited [“TIS”], ARBN 600 027 414. TIS is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and relies on Class Order 03/1102 in respect of the financial services it provides to wholesale clients in Australia. This document should only be distributed in Australia to “wholesale clients” as defined in Section 761G of the Corporations Act. TIS is regulated in Singapore (Registration number: 201101559W) by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289), which differ from Australian laws.

 

In Singapore: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited, 3 Killiney Road, #07-07, Winsland House 1, Singapore 239519, which is regulated in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289). Registration number: 201101559W. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

 

In Hong Kong: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services Hong Kong Limited 天利投資管理香港有限公司. Unit 3004, Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Hong Kong, which is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) to conduct Type 1 regulated activities (CE:AQA779). Registered in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622), No. 1173058.

 

In Japan: Issued by Columbia Threadneedle Investments Japan Co., Ltd. Financial Instruments Business Operator, The Director-General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No.3281, and a member of Japan Investment Advisers Association and Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association.

 

In the UK: Issued by Threadneedle Asset Management Limited, No. 573204 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, No. 517895, both registered in England and Wales and authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

In the EEA: Issued by Threadneedle Management Luxembourg S.A., registered with the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés (Luxembourg), No. B 110242 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

In Switzerland: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services AG, an unregulated Swiss firm or Columbia Threadneedle Management (Swiss) GmbH, acting as representative office of Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, authorised and regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

 

In the Middle East: This document is distributed by Columbia Threadneedle Investments (ME) Limited, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). For Distributors: This document is intended to provide distributors with information about Group products and services and is not for further distribution. For Institutional Clients: The information in this document is not intended as financial
advice and is only intended for persons with appropriate investment knowledge and who meet the regulatory criteria to be classified as a Professional Client or Market Counterparties and no other Person should act upon it.

 

This document may be made available to you by an affiliated company which is part of the Columbia Threadneedle Investments group of companies: Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited in the UK; Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

Columbia Threadneedle Investments is the global brand name of the Columbia and Threadneedle group of companies.

You may also like

Investment approach

Teamwork defines us and is fundamental to our investment approach, which is structured to facilitate the generation, assessment and implementation of good, strong investment ideas for our portfolios.

Funds and Prices

Columbia Threadneedle Investments has a comprehensive range of investment funds catering for a broad range of objectives.

Our Capabilities

We offer a broad range of actively managed investment strategies and solutions covering global, regional and domestic markets and asset classes.