Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Technology

Vodafone Group plc (VOD) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

VOD Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Vodafone Group plc (NASDAQ: VOD) Q2 2021 earnings call dated Nov. 15, 2020

Corporate Participants:

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

Akhil Dattani — JP Morgan Cazenove — Analyst

Emmet Kelly — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Andrew Lee — Goldman Sachs — Analyst

Jerry Dellis — Jefferies — Analyst

Georgios Ierodiaconou — Citigroup — Analyst

Polo Tang — UBS Limited — Analyst

Maurice Patrick — Barclays Capital — Analyst

David A Wright — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

James Ratzer — New Street Research — Analyst

Sam McHugh — Exane — Analyst

Nick Delfas — Redburn — Analyst

Robert Grindle — Deutsche Bank — Analyst

Jakob Bluestone — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Presentation:

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Hi everyone and hope you are all staying safe. Thank you for taking the time to join Margherita and myself for our half year results. And you’ve seen our presentation. So, we are open for Q&A. Just one point around Vantage Towers. You saw that we had a specific slide in the deck regarding Vantage Towers and importantly the relationship with Vodafone. We’re happy to take Q&A regarding our relationship, but we can’t go into any more specifics because there’s a Capital Markets Day tomorrow. I think you will find it very informative in terms of the strategy, growth drivers, capital structures. So, all your questions will be answered tomorrow. And because we’re under regulatory constraints, we can’t go into that today.

So on that, I think we have one question per analyst. They are never disciplined, but hopefully we can get through everyone. And I think we’re starting with Akhil.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. So, your first question does come from Akhil Dattani of JPMorgan. Akhil, your line is open.

Akhil Dattani — JP Morgan Cazenove — Analyst

Yeah, hi. Good morning. Thanks for taking the question. The question is really around the revenue trajectory going forward. You’ve had a much better service revenue performance this quarter than the consensus expected. One of the components you’ve called out is B2B so obviously very keen to understand specifically what in B2B is driving that and how we can think about that going forward? And the second part of that is pricing. If I’m understanding correctly, traditionally a lot of your price increases kick in in Q2, but actually this time around with the lockdown they didn’t. And I’m looking forward and seeing that you are starting to put through a number of price increases into Q3 and Q4. So, can you maybe just talk to the pricing moves and just help us understand how that also drives the going forward trajectory? Thanks a lot.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

Good. Akhil, I’ll comment first on your point on B2B and then to give you a picture of how we see the moving parts going forward. As far as B2B is concerned, we are very pleased with our performance. I would say around pretty much all KPIs in that space. If you look at the numbers, we’ve had the lowest ever or at least that I can remember churn rate in mobile. We’ve had good growth in fixed with Europe growing 6% in the quarter. We are leading in customer satisfaction, in NPS in B2B, in four out of five of our main markets now. And so it’s, I would say, broad-based acceleration after the lockdown in Q1, which we see very much being the result of effectively being very fast in Q1 in being close to our customers, deploying a range of products that were helping them going through the crisis, and I think we are now reaping the rewards of that. So, competing well I would say is the headline in B2B. In terms of how we see the timelines then, overall I would split the answer into two parts maybe near term, so the remainder of this fiscal year and then more longer term.

As we look into Q2 and Q3, I think it’s fair to say there are still some drags that we can expect on our service revenue as you have seen the lockdowns have somehow restarted in different ways across our markets and this for us is relevant on revenues on two fronts. First one, obviously international travel. There was a bit of a recovery over the summer in Europe. I suppose we need to expect that this will now fall back down again with the lockdown. And then the second element when there is still uncertainty for the remainder of the year is government support packages and for how long they will last and how particularly in Africa. So, these are the moving parts sort of going forward. I think on the back of the fact that we had good commercial momentum, good demand for our services in B2B, we definitely see that the second half is going to look better than the first half, but still a degree of oscillation as you would expect likely.

I want to also point out the medium term because I think this is a bit of a special moment in terms of trends because we have a significant drag from COVID in particular on roaming. As you have seen and you have seen in our release, we keep referring to service revenue growth also ex-roaming. The reason why we do that is that as we move into next year from April, you will see that the roaming drag will lapse. We’ll compare ourselves to a year where there was already very little travel and therefore this will allow our underlying performance ex-roaming, which at the moment as you have seen is positive with 1.5% service revenue growth across the Group ex-roaming, Europe now stable, this underlying performance that we are seeing is going to emerge and let alone be accelerated then if there was any recovery in international travel into next year. So, clearly return to growth on total service revenue performance expected for the coming year.

Akhil Dattani — JP Morgan Cazenove — Analyst

That’s great. Thank you. And just on the pricing bit, I mean are there any specific markets you’d call out just to understand the pricing dynamics?

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

It’s a very good point actually that you’re raising on pricing, because you’re right, COVID did create a bit of re-phasing, repositioning around these moves. What I would say in terms of near-term service revenue growth, don’t see this as being a big driver of acceleration because as you mentioned in prior year, we also were going through pricing cycles maybe a little bit earlier or a little bit in a different time frame, but of similar size.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

But I think it’s fair to say we will be looking to next year to see where the opportunities are just like we would normally.

Akhil Dattani — JP Morgan Cazenove — Analyst

Thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. Your next question comes from Emmet Kelly of Morgan Stanley. Emmet, please go ahead.

Emmet Kelly — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Yes. Good morning, everybody. Thank you for taking my question. So, a similar question from me except on the EBITDA side. So you have reported EBITDA of minus 2% in H1 and if I look at the guidance, it suggests I guess positive EBITDA of roughly plus 0.5% to maybe plus 3% in the second half of the year. Can you maybe just say a few words on what the key drivers are of the EBITDA improvement and maybe just refresh your cost cutting plan as well, please? Thank you.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

Sure. In general terms, you’re right, we expect EBITDA in the second half of the year to be let’s say on the right side of zero and this is what we have factored in upgrading our guidance to what I would call the upper end of our outlook range that we gave immediately post COVID. I mean a number of drivers are the same as the one we just mentioned with Akhil. So on a positive front, strong commercial momentum and good demand for our services in B2B clearly offset by some further drag on roaming; should be lower in the second half than in the first half of the year because of seasonality. But as I said, probably the volumes will fall back down again. We need to see. In terms of cost progress, well, as you can imagine anytime someone asks me about cost, we are very pleased with our results so far. All the KPIs around our cost reduction programs have been either progressing at the same pace as before in the first half or have been accelerated. And you can look at things like digital transformation, integration of activities into Shared Service. I would say COVID has not slowed us down in this journey. Actually in some instances, we have seen some supportive trends, particularly around digital coming from the change of behaviors that the customers have had due to COVID and we are locking those behavioral changes going forward.

So, very positive progress. Clearly some further opportunities ahead of us both in the near term and in the longer term. You may remember my another EUR1 billion of cost reductions in Europe between FY ’21 and FY ’23 and I think that we have some really strong assets to deliver these further improvements into the Group operating model. You have seen in the presentation we’re talking about what a good machine we have now to effectively standardize similar processes across market, integrate them, package them, decide what’s the best location to carry them through, and automate them. And on the back of that linked to also an integrated procurement process, we think that if anything the opportunity is there post COVID to further accelerate our cost reduction programs.

Emmet Kelly — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. Your next question comes from Andrew Lee of Goldman Sachs. Andrew, your line is open.

Andrew Lee — Goldman Sachs — Analyst

Yeah. Good morning, guys. I had a question on portfolio management. There’s a lot of detail and really helpful detail in the presentation around the parameters for this and how you think about it. Can you give us any more color on what this practically means and how you’re thinking about underperforming assets such as Spain at the moment?

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Yeah. Andrew, thanks for recognizing it in the presentation. We laid out a framework and it really sort of had three core principles to it and these three core principles have been there since I came in as Group CEO. We decided this is the way we need to look at our portfolio going forward. So, the first principle is that we need to ensure that an asset has benefit from a regional scale, but also must be of local scale. It must have a credible and actionable long range plan that delivers return on capital employed greater than market WACC over the long range plan that we agree with. And then thirdly, we have to be the best owner of the asset. We have to make sure that both the asset and Group are benefited from being part of the portfolio.

So, if we take Spain as an example, Marguerite and I two years ago did a very deep dive on Spain and we looked at the long range plan, and frankly, we felt they weren’t on the right trajectory. We didn’t have that confidence in the return on capital over the long range plan. And so we did a very radical restructuring and alternative transformation strategy, totally different commercial plan, making sure we’re competing high, mid, low and dual branded. We came out of football, we drove digital transformation, we did network sharing on a more drastic and radical basis. I think today is really a good demonstration and frankly the last number of quarters have been really good demonstration of progress that we made. I think the team has executed that transformation through excellently and I think that you’re now seeing us on the front foot in Spain. I think when you see us relative results to others, I think they are a good set of results. We are now Number 2 on retail having just passed Orange. We have for five consecutive quarters either stable or improving mobile, TV, and fixed broadband and we’ve had two halves of EBITDA expansion.

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So, I think we’ve got a good organic plan and that will prove to improve returns over time. Of course, were there to be consolidation opportunities, we will always evaluate those opportunities if they’re value accretive for our shareholders and we’ve always taken that sort of pragmatic view market to market on how to strengthen positions.

Andrew Lee — Goldman Sachs — Analyst

Thank you. Can I just ask a very short follow-up? I take it from your comments then that the big improvement in Spanish trends that we saw in the quarter are sustainable into the second half of the year.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Yes. Well, I think you’ll see that we’ve got momentum of the business. If you remember in quarter four, I think there was the first acknowledgment yes, your business with momentum. We were growing in the second half EBITDA. We said we’d be growing in the first half, we are growing. And I think even though the market has intensified from a competitive perspective both at the high and the low end, I think we are competing very effectively.

Andrew Lee — Goldman Sachs — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you very much. Your next question comes from Jerry Dellis of Jefferies. Please go ahead.

Jerry Dellis — Jefferies — Analyst

Yes. Good morning. Thank you for taking my questions. I wanted to ask about 5G, please. We understand that 5G delivered over mid-band spectrum brings performance gains, but the mid-band spectrum is not fully available in all of your markets. So, what’s the commercial case for launching 5G in the low-band spectrum first and is there a sort of a commercial necessity to being first to deploy 5G market by market? And perhaps related to that, as there is some enduring Huawei uncertainty differs a bit market by market, to what extent is that uncertainty about Huawei holding you back from fully investing? Thank you.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Jerry, I think we made — if you like, we went on to the front foot with 5G. We were one of the first to launch across Europe. I think we landed that message in the minds of businesses and consumers very effectively. Of course, it wasn’t mass scale. It was small, but it was widely disbursed through our European markets. So actually from a perception perspective, we are very much seen as a leader in 5G.

Then the question is as it starts to now ramp up and as you see we’re deploying in I think 126 cities currently across nine markets in Europe, the question is how should we deploy? Some operators are taking dynamic spectrum sharing, so DSS, which is effectively giving you a 5G symbol but 4G performance. And what we said as a Company is no, we don’t want to do that because it will be misleading to consumers and businesses. What we want to do is 5G built right, so we want the real 5G performance. We know that if we deploy the significant 3.5-gigahertz type level spectrum along with 700 ultimately when it’s available in each of the markets, that is real 5G.

We’re starting with the cities, we’re starting with the business part where there is an economic case because the demand is there from a data usage perspective and also the user cases from a business perspective. I think 3G was browsing, 4G was video. 5G, this is about enterprises, about businesses enabling the capability moving forward in an IoT world and we have the world’s largest IoT platform. So, I think it’s about us focusing not on coverage messages with an inferior product, it’s about a superior product where the economics really count.

Jerry Dellis — Jefferies — Analyst

Thank you. Just the Huawei uncertainty matter, does that create a constraint?

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Well, clearly, you would want clarity and we’re working with each of the European countries and governments to implement on the European 5G toolbox. They are in the process of doing that, but the toolbox made a distinction between core and RAM. We’ve already made our decision on core. We’re taking Huawei out of the core over the next four to five years. But RAM very much different from core and I think we’re engaged with each of the governments on that. So, what I would say is I wouldn’t say it’s been any material delay. Maybe in some markets we paused for a few months, but nothing more than that.

Jerry Dellis — Jefferies — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Georgios Ierodiaconou from Citigroup. Georgios, please go ahead.

Georgios Ierodiaconou — Citigroup — Analyst

Good morning and thank you for taking my question. It’s on regulation, and Nick, during your introductory remarks you highlighted that regulation is going in the right direction in a number of countries you are present. How is this one exception which is Portugal? And my question is in two parts. Firstly, I believe the market leader there are Altice have already stated they will make no material investments in the country until they revisit the spectrum auction process. I’ll be interested to hear your views on that and whether you’re thinking around something similar for Vodafone.

And then secondly, more broadly by focusing on returns of capital employed. You will be picking winners and losers on returns as you deploy capital in the long term. So, do you think politicians and regulators are starting to understand the importance of fair regulation in order to attract more capital from the Group? Thank you.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Yes. Georgios, very good question. Maybe I’ll start with the latter and then go into the first question, which is I talk all the time about social contract. I talk about what we bring to society, what we’re willing to invest, what our investors want to deploy in terms of serious capital because we — in a COVID world, the demand’s even greater for the products. But what I reinforce is a contract and the contract is we want to invest, but we need the right conditions. And I talk about we need to create a healthier market structure and healthier is about saying that our shareholders need to earn adequate return and we will deploy capital where we see governments supporting that principle. And so I have been actively engaged with Europe, the Commission. I mean I was with Commissioner Breton last week, Vestager about three weeks before that. So, very actively engaged. We got another industry meeting in a couple of weeks’ time talking about what makes a healthy industry structure and what things we need to have facilitated.

So, I’d say very much leaning into that and they are listening because they understand the criticality now of connectivity if they want a digital society. If they want a digital sustainable inclusive society, they need to provide a healthier structure and I think they are acknowledging that. I tried to put in the presentation number of evidence points, of course this is early days.

But then I turn to Portugal and so Portugal is a really good example where we’re saying that that spectrum auction structure was not providing a healthy industry structure. That essentially with no market testing, with no evidencing of market failure whatsoever; a new entrant was being given advantageous terms both in terms of lower prices spectrum and no real obligation to roll out and can just do national roaming. And we said where is the incentive for people that are really investing into markets? And we had planned to put a center of excellence with 400 FTEs into Portugal and we put it on pause because we said we are not going to support governments that work against existing operators in that way especially when we were there for the crisis.

Now, we’ve engaged. The regulator and government have changed the conditions. They have improved the conditions. Now the new entrant will pay full price and will have to rollout network, fine. But in my opinion and my team’s opinion, they have not gone far enough. We still believe this is state aid and we still believe that it contravened European Telco law. So we are going to continue to litigate against them, and while we do that, we will have to consider the investments that we’re making. Governments have to realize if you want a healthy investor community, there’s a balance.

Georgios Ierodiaconou — Citigroup — Analyst

Very clear. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Your next question comes from Polo Tang of UBS. Polo, your line is open.

Polo Tang — UBS Limited — Analyst

Good morning, everybody. Thank you for taking the question. I just really have a question on Germany because I think you mentioned in your presentation that about a quarter of your broadband base was taking 1 gigabit speeds and I think that the ARPU uplift was ranked by EUR5 a month as people upgraded. But kind of clarify how we should think about the trajectory in terms of fixed German service revenues going forward because I think they were I reckon almost stable in Q2. So, should we expect a pick up over the coming quarters? And given that you have such a speed advantage in terms of German broadband and given that you’ve been promoting your 1 gig speeds at EUR40, EUR50 a month, do you think your broadband net adds in Germany should accelerate from here? So, any color around Germany and broadband? Thank you very much.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

So, let me just do the high level and maybe if you want to provide any sort of outlooky type comment. But we sit back and we say we’ve done a really good job of upgrading our gigabit network, 22 million homes now pass with gigabit speed. So, we’re pleased with the execution in that respect. We’ve had a decent run rate that accelerated in the quarter in terms of fixed broadband net adds, so especially on our cable performance. So, I would say we’ve got momentum.

I think two things we call out in Germany that we’d like to see some improvement and that is retail performance in the Unity area. We show a graph in Margherita’s area where they have not been quite as good as we’ve been in the KDG. We had to harmonize some of the sales processes and add TV roadmap of which we’ve got a clear TV roadmap this year. We’ve now harmonized the TV premium product. We’ve got OTT product coming and then Vodafone TV product coming in the fourth quarter. So, I’d say we’re definitely focused on gaining more momentum and a higher acceleration in the second half.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

No, just maybe adding a technical point. The reason why you see the growth flattish in the quarter is wholesale. Wholesale has been a negative drag in Germany because we’ll have the point in which the ULL fees were increased by Deutsche Telekom and this affects the total growth rate.

Polo Tang — UBS Limited — Analyst

Can I maybe just pick up on something? You talked about TV, but how important do you think TV is in a converged bundle? Because if we look at Spain, you obviously moved away from football in terms of Champions League and La Liga, but you’re actually seeing accelerating commercial trends. So, overall how important is TV in a converged bundle?

Nick Read — Chief Executive

No, I think it’s very important. I think that over the long run — but the question is what type of bundle. What we aren’t keen on is paying huge fees for football within the bundle. What we would rather do is have commercial arrangement with someone open within the market like Sky for Germany as an example and then we focus on ensuring that we bring — I mean Vodafone TV simply is bringing a 4K experience, EUR60 box with linear plus apps with harmonized search across all channels to service the contact you’re looking for, voice activated. So it’s nice and easy for consumers to find what they’re looking for, cloud storage for your recordings. So, we think that is the new execution for TV and we are scaling our position. We’re in seven markets already. Germany launches as the eighth market in Europe in quarter four and then we will migrate customers to that experience from the Horizon box and the Giga TV box.

Polo Tang — UBS Limited — Analyst

Great. Thanks.

Operator

Your next question is from Maurice Patrick from Barclays. Maurice, your line is open.

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Maurice Patrick — Barclays Capital — Analyst

Good morning, guys. A key thrust of the presentation seems to be around boosting shareholder returns and returns overall. So, a question on balancing the retail/wholesale side, I mean you talked about return on capital employed only 5% is actually falling slightly and you said you were satisfied about it. But thinking about Germany and outside the revenue areas because you have a slide talking about lots of sharing and monetization things you’ve done across the portfolio not really Germany. If I think correctly back, your utilization network in Germany is about 30%. It’s not obvious how you grow the retail base that much over the coming quarters. So, I guess your thoughts on wholesale in Germany? I know you got cable with TEF Deutschland coming up, is that enough? I mean would you think about using traditional example more than Starcom of yours. It looks like your new partner. So thoughts about balancing the retail and the wholesale mix and asset utilization in Germany. Thank you.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

Maybe I just was reacting to your points around German growth more broadly first before coming on to wholesale, which is German growth is flat at the moment but it is suffering from the headwinds of COVID as well as obviously the exit from the one-on-one wholesale deal. As I was mentioning earlier with Akhil, I think as you move into next year, you will see that the roaming headwind will go away and then over time also the wholesale one. There are definite areas of growth into our German business as you would expect, right, because we are driving convergence, we are driving cable penetration, we were mentioning earlier the upselling of cable to higher speed. All these are reasons why the repay revenues of Germany, which are already growing in the quarter by 1.8% if you exclude roaming, are expected to continue to grow nicely I would say in the coming future. I was just reacting to that before moving into the — then what do we want to do with wholesale.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

No, we have clearly considered wholesale so we wholesale to TEF. We’ve been very focused at bringing that into action and I would say that generally we want it. And what we like about that wholesale arrangement is it does provide utilization of the asset, but still protects our differentiation in the marketplace. Still we’re focused at the higher speeds and we’re completely differentiated at the higher speeds. Clearly we’re engaged and considered various options in the future and we’ll always look at opportunities as long as differentiation is maintained and let’s say the economics are acceptable.

Maurice Patrick — Barclays Capital — Analyst

Great. I mean as a quick follow-up so I just picking at you on Bloomberg. I mean to ask how big [Indecipherable] net revenues are at the moment [Indecipherable].

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

So, we have both fixed and mobile revenues in the mix and the drag that they create on our service revenue growth at the moment is around 1 percentage point. The total amount I think IR can be more precise, but call it around EUR300 million between fixed and mobile.

Maurice Patrick — Barclays Capital — Analyst

Got it. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Your next question comes from David Wright of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. David, please go ahead.

David A Wright — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Okay. Thank you very much guys for taking the question. I was going to ask about the portfolio management side once again. I think it seems like Egypt has wobbled a little bit. So I was just looking to get maybe an update on progress there. And just second of all relating to portfolio and going on to the whole ROCE debate that I think has been fairly intent with some of the questions today, one of the things that was notable about Spain, Margherita, is that you chose to write down the asset I think as you did that quite significant review of strategy. You do run across the Vodafone Group right now a fairly high level of intangibles and goodwill against your actual PPE asset base. So, it does feel like other — or I should say are there some opportunities to actually consider some of the value of assets acquired over the last 10 years when you’re actually doing some of this return on capital analysis to get a more fair picture as it were. For instance you’ve — you acquired the cable asset — Cable & Wireless asset some time ago. Is that the kind of asset that you could reconsider the valuation of? So how are you actually thinking about the potential value of some of these significant goodwill and amortization drivers that are holding Group ROCE back? Thank you.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Okay. Let me be very quick on Egypt. Look, due diligence is effectively complete and now STC are engaged with TE, Telecom Egypt. Why? Because Telecom Egypt is a significant shareholder, we have a shareholder agreement. Clearly there needs to be a shareholder agreement between the two of them and therefore it’s an important consideration on the go-forward relationship. So we are not really a party to that conversation, that’s really between the two of them, and we will see how they progress.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

And on the goodwill point, I would say that we see it very much as, how can I say, a strict accounting process that we need to follow and we will keep following under a framework of rules aligned with our audit committee and our auditors. So, it’s very much driven by the mechanics of the accounting. Don’t read into it any real broader considerations. We just want to make sure that we are, I would say, balanced and conservative from that perspective because it’s scenario of attention obviously for all regulators from a financial perspective. So, this is what we are focusing on really. It’s a very transparent and balanced accounting exercise.

David A Wright — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Just following on a little on that if I may, Nick. On the whole sort of Spanish outlook you begun two years ago, can you just give us a little bit more insight into that mid-term sort of trajectory that you’re really considering? We have seen one or two of the major telcos in Europe maybe even Spain where they’ve talked about looking at return on capital employed and the assets have continued to deteriorate and now they might be enough to get in the way. So are we talking — is it a five-year trajectory, a 10-year trajectory? Is there just anything more you can give us on that kind of timeline that you’re giving these assets to really deliver?

Nick Read — Chief Executive

When we talk over the long range plan, we’re talking three to five years. So, that’s the time horizon we look at. For Spain, as an example, we took structural actions and I think sometimes people didn’t fully appreciate how many structural actions we took in terms of the digital side, the transformation of the cost base, the network sharing. Of course, the network sharing is yet to really show in that five-year time horizon, but will increasingly be a benefit going forward. One of the other things we did which is not so obvious is we did something with Spain that we are adopting increasingly through our markets, which is we wanted to get — we wanted to simplify the business inside from an IT perspective, cost perspective, etc. To do that, you have migrate your base on to forward book pricing and forward book tariffs. And so Spain is a really good example where the base is on speed tiered unlimited now. That’s important because it means that we don’t have this long legacy of lots of historical pricing tariffs, etc., makes the tariffs people are on today’s pricing so we are less vulnerable to today’s pricing and promos.

The other thing that we did an investment on was to drive in-commitment so there’s a substantial step-up of in-commitment on the base versus two years ago. So there’s a number of things to make the actual customer base more resilient, which is why I think over the last five quarters, you’re seeing a good customer base performance which we can build on going forward.

David A Wright — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Okay. Thanks a lot. And thanks for that younger healthier looking picture of me. Thank you, guys.

Operator

Your next question comes from James Ratzer of New Street. James, please go ahead.

James Ratzer — New Street Research — Analyst

Yes. Good morning and thank you very much indeed. Would love to go back if possible please to the point around EBITDA growth and the phasing of EBITDA. In the full-year guidance you’ve given, you pick out I think on Slide 17 headwinds from roaming and then what you call other COVID impacts. I was wondering just specifically kind of what you’re thinking about of those other COVID impacts because the commentary you’ve given so far actually sounded quite encouraging around B2B. So, really trying to get an idea of what you see underlying EBITDA growth ex-COVID at the moment. And in terms of the phasing, just wondering what you can say about the synergies from Unity because I noticed in the German slide, you said I think EUR83 million of synergy gains but then in the commentary later in the presentation, you talk about I think it was EUR257 million are now locked in. So, does that mean we are actually going to see the phasing impact from the Unity synergies start to accelerate from here on EBITDA? Thank you.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

So James, I’ll start with Liberty and the synergies and then move on to EBITDA. From a synergy perspective, when we talk about having locked in over EUR250 million, which is around 50% of the target over four to five years, essentially, we mean that we have already negotiated for example in procurement, the contractual condition that will deliver the savings or established plans in the business to deliver those savings. This will come through gradually over time. You have seen in the — I think in the slide on Germany the exact amount that has contributed to the German EBITDA in this half year and we will continue obviously to report on that going forward.

As I mentioned earlier, we are very pleased with the speed at which the synergies are being delivered at the moment. We are about six months ahead out of the first 12 months of execution. I need to say the teams have done a fantastic job there, but clearly it’s a multi-year plan, four to five years to get to the final goal. So, I think we have a long road ahead of us, and again, we will continue to report regularly on it.

As far as then your question was around EBITDA, what do we see going forward from COVID and is there something beyond roaming. For roaming specifically, as I probably mentioned already earlier, less of a drag in the second half, maybe worse volume that in Q2 because of the lockdown. And the other most significant impacts for us potentially are from the support that governments can give to businesses or consumers in the case of Africa, for example, on the crisis. And this support has been constant so far and therefore we just want to draw out the fact that that’s what has been driving the trends that we have seen. So, for example, if you’re thinking about the debt, we have called out that we didn’t see a material impact on businesses so far. Clearly, I think our customers are also prioritizing our services in the current crisis and we would expect this to continue. But there may be also support that is coming from these packages and therefore we need to be conscious of the fact that if some of these packages were going to stop or change significantly, that may affect our performance. That’s what we wanted to call out.

James Ratzer — New Street Research — Analyst

Thank you. So, would you be able to give an estimate in H1 of what you think your organic EBITDA growth was ex-all COVID impacts?

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Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

I think it’s probably simpler to stay on the ex-roaming and visitors. We’ve had an internal debates as well how to portray these. And I need to say I think it’s always easier to point to a single line in the P&L that you can see without adding judgment elements to it. So you have seen that EBITDA was minus 1.9% in the first half and the drag from roaming was EUR270 million. So, it would have been positive around just under 2% ex the roaming drag. Just narrowing it down to this, as you say, it wasn’t the only impact because clearly the lockdowns affected us in Q1. But I think it’s the easiest metric to look at also because it will then fall off.

James Ratzer — New Street Research — Analyst

Great. Thanks very much.

Operator

Your next question comes from Sam McHugh from Exane. Sam, please go ahead.

Sam McHugh — Exane — Analyst

Good morning, guys. Just a quick one on enterprise if I can. So you flagged a return to growth this quarter. So when you look at European markets, where do you think you see the best scope for growth? And on enterprise mobile, maybe you could just give us a bit of color about KPIs? And the reason I ask is increasingly we do see corporates installing apps on phones and substituting the enterprise phone for maybe the consumer phone. How should we think about deflation of the overall enterprise mobile market in the medium to long term? Is that something you worry about or you’re pretty confident that you’ve got some great relationships, etc.? Thanks very much.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Sam, that’s probably a question that could take an hour to answer. Let me remind sort of pull a couple of points. Look, first of all, I would say that we are seeing big demand from businesses small and large. Large customers predominantly wanting to upgrade capacity, wanting to upgrade next generation connectivity that plays to our strength because we don’t have the legacy products, we’re more front book selling. So, that’s a positive for us. Of course we’ve got a very differentiated European footprint. That’s another addition. We’re the player you go to to start that conversation. So, I would say we are definitely gaining share. You can see that in the U.K. numbers where you see large corporate movement more substantially I would say.

I’d tell you the second area is about SMEs have all woken up to — SoHo and SMEs all woken up to digitization of their business model being critical and you’re going to see part of the EU Recovery Fund targeted purely at SMEs and digital. So, we see like vouchers for instance in Italy as the first example. There will be many more of those and we want to stand for the champion for SME digitization. So if you look at what we’re doing on our website etc., it’s leaning into that long-term trend. So, we think that that’s an advantage for us going forward.

And then I’ll say third is just our own digital experience and the cloud and digital services. So, what some of the incumbents do is they try and create their own products. What we said is no, we need to get the very best of breed of those cloud and digital services, partner with the best in the market, bring it quickly in a suite, and we put a Vodafone wrap around that and then sell it in as total solutions. And I think it’s more agile, it’s more front of foot, and its lower capital need on us going forward. Don’t know if you have anything to add?

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

No. Nothing specific.

Sam McHugh — Exane — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Nick Delfas of Redburn. Nick, your line is open.

Nick Delfas — Redburn — Analyst

Yeah. Thanks very much indeed. Just one question from me on net promoter scores. You mentioned the net promoter scores for business. What’s going on in consumer and in particular maybe country by country? Thanks very much.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Yeah. Nick, I’m pleased you asked actually because what we’ve — I think we had a very strong COVID response. I think it was really acknowledged that we were — showed leadership for our sector and just generally sectors. We did all the right things I think for vulnerable, for SMEs, etc. And so for the first time ever, we’ve seen such a big step up on NPS. So, for both business and consumer on average across the European Big 4, we’ve seen a 6 percentage point gain. So, it’s been systematic. Africa is systematic. So, I think we’re really delighted that not often you always get that immediate recognition of everything you do, but I think we landed it.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I think also the fact that we were at a certain stage already in our digital transformation helps because if I look at some actions that we were running across our markets, particularly in Southern Europe, our apps had become really the anchor point, for example, for customers. And we had already developed full customer journeys through the app and through online that they could refer to and we could also somehow train the customers who weren’t, for example, used to top up online, to just go to the app and do it, and I think the ease of use came across really strongly.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

And the final thing I’d say is I’ve never had so many business customers turn to me and say the speed at which you got organized yourself working from home and then reached out to us to help us through what was for them a big challenge of getting into a position of working from home. And that’s really — that’s ingrained in a lot of very C-suite people, Vodafone were there to help them because they were in difficulties.

Nick Delfas — Redburn — Analyst

Thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. Your next question comes from Robert Grindle from Deutsche Bank. Robert, please go ahead.

Robert Grindle — Deutsche Bank — Analyst

Yeah. Good morning and thank you. I’d like to take you back to H1 results last year if I might, which seems like a lifetime ago but not so long in tougher times. Back then you flagged near-term capex on cloud, tower sharing, digital transformation, but raised the prospect that post full-year ’22 that we might be seeing capex fall. So, could we post next year see the double whammy of rising revenues falling — at least falling capital intensity maybe even a triple if margins go up as well?

And a very quick follow-up on David’s question on Egypt. Nick, are you exposed to the cash out for spectrum that just happened for the business? Thank you.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

Robert, on the whammies on capex, let’s say, that we’re pleased that we are progressing well this year with the 5G rollout and no impediments from COVID and we are executing within our EUR5 billion of free cash flow guidance well. If I look into FY ’22 and beyond, I would say maybe I can call out a couple of moving parts. I would say on one end, I think we need to take into consideration the implementation of the EU toolkits on Huawei, which we don’t have clarity on yet. On the other hand, I think you will see tomorrow through the presentation from Vivek the impacts of Vantage. Vantage, I won’t steal the thunder of Vivek, but has some very exciting growth opportunities that we want to take in terms of if you want growth capex, this opportunity will intergenerate good predictable cash flows for Vodafone. And in total, I would say not a very significant amount in the scale of our capex, but we’ll need to take those into consideration when we do our next plans.

And then on the other hand, I think there are two other elements that will be at play. First of all, network sharing deals probably as part of the discussion we were having in the past. You know that they have ramp-up phase that we are going through and so we will see the benefits of the network sharing deals coming into play on our capital intensity soon. And then I probably worth mentioning also the EU Recovery Fund. You know that a substantial portion of that is earmarked for digital or also for green initiatives. So, we may have opportunities also coming from the European Fund. Now all this, we’ll put into our next long range plan. We will prepare a new plan for March and we will update you in May on how the next three years will look like.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

Yeah. And Robert, just on Egypt very quickly. I would say that look, you know that in Egypt we’re the Number 1 player. We have about 40% market share in that market. The other two players sort of in the high 20s. So, considerable leadership. You saw in auction that we secured more spectrum than the others. So all we’re doing is extending our leadership in that market. It enhances our long range plan and spectrum was a specific item in our discussion with STC.

Robert Grindle — Deutsche Bank — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Your final question comes from Jakob Bluestone of Credit Suisse. Jakob, your line is open.

Jakob Bluestone — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Hi, good morning. Thanks for taking the question. I had a question on operating leverage within the business. You obviously talked a lot about how the synergy realization is coming through faster than expected and how you’re sort of running a bit ahead of plan on some of the other cost saving projects. If I look at your service revenues, it was down by about EUR120 million in the first six months and your EBITDA was down by about EUR80 million. There’s not a huge difference between the decline in your service revenues and your EBITDA. And if you look on Slide 15, it looks like there was a sort of EUR100 million increase in other costs. So, can you maybe comment a little bit on what are some of these other cost pressures you’re seeing? Is that something you expect to continue? And more broadly, should we be expecting to see more operating leverage going forward given the various cost measures that you’ve got in the pipeline? Thank you.

Margherita Della Valle — Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Jakob, I think will have the opportunity to have other reviews when we can go into maybe more details of all the moving parts. But let me just say that through COVID, we had some revenue movement, which were high intensity of direct cost implications that may not be the, I would say, normal revenue movements. So for example, in the lockdowns in the first quarter, there was a sudden jump in incoming traffic, which generates revenues but no margin, because clearly it’s reciprocal. Equally, we have talked about roaming, and the roaming that if you want is still happening is very much intra-European roaming, which has revenues but equally costs and therefore ratios which are not the normal ones that you will see in the business. So you have a number of areas which are a little bit skewed from COVID, which is why your equation revenues minus opex is almost missing a part, but we can go into more detail if you want with the actual numbers in front of us.

Jakob Bluestone — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Nick Read — Chief Executive

So given that was our last question, can I take the opportunity of thanking you all for joining Margherita and myself. We’ll have the opportunity to spend more time with you and our investors over the coming weeks. Look, today, it was about demonstrating the resilience of Vodafone, the commercial momentum that we have off the back of the actions that we’ve taken to strategically transform Vodafone with two years in to a long-term strategy but we’re making progress at speed. Clearly, more to do, but we look forward to that continued dialog. Take care and stay safe.

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