During the third quarter the operational merger with 012 Smile was completed, which enhanced Partner’s leadership as a comprehensive communications group and has increased the value for our customers. During the quarter, the Company launched bundled service packages offering cellular, fixed line and ISP services, which have been very successful.
In conclusion, Mr. Haim Romano said: "The financial and operational robustness of the Company, its significant core strengths and competitive ability to quickly adapt to the changing reality, in addition to our consistent investment in innovative growth engines, affirms our position as leaders in the telecommunications market.”
4 Operating expenses including cost of service revenues, selling, marketing and administrative expenses and excluding depreciation and amortization.
Mr. Ziv Leitman, Partner's Chief Financial Officer commented on the quarter results:“The financial results of the third quarter compared to the previous quarter reflect the impact of increasing competition, on the one hand and the continued impact of the efficiency measures implemented by the Company during the past year and the seasonality effects, on the other hand. The Company reported this quarter a strong free cash flow (after interest payments), which totaled NIS 310 million. The cash flow was positively affected by the decrease in working capital, following a decrease in equipment sales and the relatively high proportion of equipment sales by credit card and cash. Assuming these trends continue, the decrease in working capital is expected to continue, which should positively affect the free cash flow in the coming quarters. Despite the fierce competition in the cellular market the Company succeeded this quarter in maintaining an ARPU level which totaled NIS 97, the highest in the cellular market, compared with NIS 101 in the previous quarter. The ARPU was mainly affected by the continued price erosion and the transition of customers to unlimited packages, which was partially offset by seasonal roaming revenues. The high ARPU reflects the Company's strategy to find a balance between a high ARPU level and market share, in part as a result of our refusal to be drawn into a price war, thereby allowing us to maintain high ARPU. The Company estimates that the level of ARPU for the fourth quarter will be lower than in the third quarter, as a result of seasonality effects and continued price erosion in the market. In the third quarter, the Company continued to implement efficiency measures while strictly controlling its cost structure. The Company’s operating expenses (excluding equipment, depreciation and amortization) decreased in the third quarter by approximately NIS 60 million, a decrease that resulted from the efficiency measures and one-time decreases in royalty expenses and other expenses.