Earnings per share registered an outstanding improvement in the quarter, delivering positive year-on-year growth in underlying terms. This improvement reflected sequential OIBDA growth in absolute terms across all regions, and a quarter-on-quarter improvement in underlying terms in the consolidated OIBDA margin, reflecting transformational initiatives and cost-reduction measures undertaken in all countries. In this sense, particularly noteworthy were the removal of handset subsidies for new customers acquisition in Spain from March this year -this is already leading to significant savings in commercial expenses-, the gradual reduction of subsidies in the UK, the focus on quality as a key lever to reduce churn, and network-sharing agreements reached with other operators in the UK and Mexico.
Moreover, the higher efficiency reflects the benefits of our scale. Telefónica Global Resources is consistently contributing to higher efficiencies and cost reduction, driven by new ways of sourcing, building and operating our networks and IT.
Meanwhile, the third quarter also featured a considerable reduction in net financial debt, reflecting the Company’s strategy of increasing its financial flexibility and improving its liquidity position.
In addition, the Company advanced further on the capture of new growth opportunities in the digital world in the third quarter, with initiatives such the joint-venture in the UK for mobile payment and advertising approved by the European Union authorities, the agreement signed with Aurasma, the world’s leading augmented-reality platform, and the launch of Amérigo, a 300 million euros network of private equity funds, among others.Customer base: 314 million accesses Total accesses increased by 5% year-on-year to 314 million by the end of September 2012, driven by the increase in mobile accesses, fixed and mobile broadband, and pay TV accesses. Noteworthy was the 8% year-on-year increase in accesses at Telefónica Latinoamérica (67% of the total). Mobile accesses stood at 246 million at the end of the third quarter (+6% year-on-year), driven by a sustained growth in mobile contract accesses (+7% year-on-year), accounting for 33% of total mobile accesses. Mobile net additions in the first nine months totalled 10.5 million accesses (excluding the disconnection of 3.6 million inactive prepay mobile accesses in Spain and Brazil).