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Telefonica Spanish market share fell in January

Source: Reuters - Tue 15th Mar 2011

Spain's Telefonica, the euro zone's largest telecoms operator, lost market share in its home mobile and internet markets in January, as customers switched to cheaper rivals in the face of a sluggish economy.

Figures from telecoms regulator CMT showed on Tuesday that Telefonica's Movistar was the biggest loser in a portability scheme which allows customers to switch operators while keeping the same mobile number.

It lost 59,441 more numbers than it gained, finishing up with 41.58% of the mobile market in January, down from 42.27% in December.

In the broadband internet market, Telefonica's share slipped to 52.64%after dropping to 52.7% in December.

Analysts have been looking closely at signs of how Telefonica is being hit after the operator indicated revenues on its home turf - where 1 in 5 workers are unemployed - worsened in the fourth quarter and were similar in January.

"It is normal for the dominant operator to lose market share compared to the rest, but the process has accelerated in the last few months," Ahorro Corporacion analyst Virginia Perez said.

Telefonica shares were down 2.1% to 17.18 euros at 1110 GMT, with Spain's blue-chip index down 1.9%.

Vodafone also lost 3,392 mobile numbers overall and its share fell to 29.35% from 30.0% a month earlier.

Spain's 4th mobile operator Yoigo, run by TeliaSonera, was the biggest gainer from portability, signing up 45,732 more numbers than it lost, bumping up its market share to 4.09% from 3.93%.

"There is a lot of movement in the market and the portability number keeps growing because customers are now much more aware about good prices," said Johan Andsjo, chief executive of Yoigo, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

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