Britain's TalkTalk raises cash, cuts dividend to join the fibre race

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Due to anticipated investment in customer growth, TalkTalk said now expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation to be between GBP230.0 million and GBP245.0 million for the year ending in March.

The operator and the infrastructure equity investment arm of M&G Prudential said they had agreed "heads of terms" - equivalent to a letter of intent or a memorandum of understanding - on the creation of an independent company to carry out the build.

Broadband provider Talk Talk said it would raise up to 200 million pounds ($278.46 million) in a placing to help fund a plan to connect three million British homes and businesses with ultrafast broadband and keep it competitive with bigger rivals.

TalkTalk Group PLC (LON:TALK) unveiled a £200mln share placing, cut its full year earnings guidance and reduced its dividend as it plans to invest in rolling out fibre broadband to United Kingdom homes.

Infracapital will supply 80pc of the funds, and TalkTalk the remaining 20pc.

TalkTalk shares, which have fallen 29 percent in the last 12 months, were down 8.6 percent at 109 pence in afternoon trade. There will be a final dividend of 1.5p in FY 18, followed by an interim dividend of 1p and final dividend of 1.5p in FY 19. The year before, it paid a final dividend of 10.58p and a total of 15.87p.

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The proposed company would be 20% owned by TalkTalk and 80% by Infracapital, and will target three million residential and commercial properties in mid-sized towns and cities around the United Kingdom, with a potential equity investment of £500m enabling total investment of around £1.5bn.

It will subsequently act as a founding wholesale customer of the new company and commit to a minimum volume of new customers. The plans build on TalkTalk's successful full fibre network trial in York, which already reaches 14,000 homes and is being expanded to reach 54,000.

The move comes as TalkTalk tapped investors for £200m (€226.65m) to shore up its balance sheet, help drive customer growth and underpin its fibre investment plans.

Barclays and Deutsche Bank are acting as joint global co-ordinators and joint bookrunners for the placing of new shares.

Responding to TalkTalk's announcement, Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom's competition group director, said: "We welcome this latest announcement, which is another example of the real momentum behind full-fibre broadband".

"We anticipate revenue growth and strong earnings growth in the year ahead, as the benefits of a growing customer base and rigorous cost control begin to deliver the results this business is capable of". TalkTalk posted a reduction in churn to 1.3% from 1.6%, and headline revenue growth of 1.0% year-on-year. We have therefore strengthened our balance sheet and temporarily reduced our dividend to take full advantage of the opportunities available.

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