Judgement day for mmO2

The company floated on the stock exchange in November last year and has been a hive of activity since. Among its latest deals is a sponsorship deal with premiership champions Arsenal, showing the company is aiming high.

The company said it was confident pre-tax earnings would fall within analyst estimates of between £360m and £437m. In March it said that capital expenditure was lower than expected, so company debt would fall below market expectations.

CE Peter Erskine said: ‘mmO2 has focused on its strategy of improving operational performance managing the business as one and leading new data services. This has resulted in a strengthened financial performance.’

The company has begun to build on this momentum as it inaugurated its new O2 brand at the London Eye in April and launched a new mobile data drive in February, with partners including industry giants BT Ignite, Compaq and Hewlett Packard.

And, also in February, mmO2 said it was restructuring its UK and German businesses. It said in the 2002/2003 fiscal year, BT Cellnet’s staff would be reduced by 1,400 employees and 133 of its branches would be closed.

CFO David Finch will closely follow the company’s international expansion and deals with Microsoft, Hutchison and Handspring as he prepares the annual results.

The chartered accountant has had a busy year after his appointment in June of last year, Finch helped prepare the telecoms company’s IPO. He then went into unchartered territory, as mmO2 became the first company in the world to launch and rollout a commercial GPRS network.

Finch’s extensive knowledge in company turnarounds and mergers as well as his experience as FD of Excel and NFC has aided him in his task.

The FD also helped to raise money for mmO2 during the year, as it made an extensive European roadshow to sell its bonds. In January 2002, the mobile company announced it was issuing bonds worth approximately £1bn.

And the company has been growing internationally, with deals in Ireland and the Netherlands in addition to its ownership of mobile network operators in UK, Germany. MmO2 has secured third generation mobile phone licenses.

But as investors continue getting the jitters and mobile phone companies remain fragile, mmO2 will have to be robust to maintain its momentum and remain ahead of the game.

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