Colt’s first quarter numbers suggested the European headwinds are anything but over. Revenues of €392.1M and EBITDA of €80.5M were both down sequentially, although still within the range the company has been stabilizing at as Voice revenues have churned off due to regulatory shifts. But they’ve also been expanding on the fiber front lately.
Yesterday Colt moved beyond its Dublin footprint to bring a second Irish market on-net. The city of Cork has now been added to the other 100-odd European markets on their list, and the multinational audio and web meeting provider PGi is already taking advantage of the new connectivity option. They have also been hooking up even more second and third tier cities over in Germany. Last week they announced network extensions bringing Kiel, Schwerin, Magdeburg, Erfurt, Jena, Saarbrücken and Bamberg on-net. The Saarbrücken presence is on a new London/Frankfurt route that passed through Luxembourg.
It’s interesting that they’ve chosen this quarter to highlight their network expansions. While they’ve been very active in bringing buildings on-net (19,000 now!), much of recent news has been about their data center and cloud initiatives.
As one of only a few competitive pan-European operators with metro depth, Colt still looks to me like a likely target should the European fiber market start to consolidate in earnest the way we saw in the US. The fit with Level 3 remains very good, but the idea of Vodafone taking the potential proceeds of a sale of its share of Verizon Wireless and going shopping is growing on me.