March 13, 2012 / 1:26 PM / 8 years ago

Telefonica loses Spanish mobile customers in Jan

* Return to negative trend after brief recovery in Dec

* Market share 39.89 percent, down from 40.07 percent

By Robert Hetz

MADRID, March 13 (Reuters) - Spain’s leading telecoms company Telefonica lost 36,270 mobile customers in January, trimming its market share after a brief fightback in December, data from the Telecoms Market Commission showed on Tuesday.

Telefonica, the euro zone’s largest operator by revenues, still has the largest share of the mobile market in its home country, ahead of rivals Vodafone and Orange but is having to work harder during the downturn.

Smaller players including TeliaSonera’s Yoigo are gaining customers as Spaniards shop around for better deals during a protracted crisis that has left more than one in five workers jobless.

Telefonica slipped to 39.89 percent of the market from 40.07 percent, ahead of Vodafone’s January 28.25 percent and Orange’s 20.08 percent.

November promotions had helped Telefonica to stem losses in December. It has lost 1.7 percentage points of market share in the last 12 months.

“We believe the wireless trends reflect Telefonica’s structural issues domestically,” said Deutsche Bank in a note to clients.

“We expect domestic EBITDA (earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortisation) to fall a further 11 percent in 2012 as Telefonica will have to face either the operational leverage of the revenue declines or the costs of fixing the share loss.”

Broker Sabadell said Telefonica’s data was a “slight disappointment in the mobile sector, with renewed falls (even if at a lower rate than previously)”.

Telefonica also lost 7,500 broadband internet customers but partially compensated with an increase in optical fibre internet customers, who pay more.

Telefonica has lost 3.5 percent points of its broadband internet market share in the last 12 months, leaving it with 49.13 percent of the market. (Writing by Sarah Morris)

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