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Cash flows

In CHF million   31.03.2022   31.03.2021   Change
Operating income before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)   1,137   1,124   13
Lease expense   (72)   (75)   3
EBITDA after lease expense (EBITDA AL)   1,065   1,049   16
Capital expenditure   (522)   (540)   18
Operating free cash flow proxy   543   509   34
Change in net working capital   (264)   (21)   (243)
Change in defined benefit obligations   16   12   4
Net interest payments on financial assets and liabilities   (11)   (13)   2
Income taxes paid   (189)   (198)   9
Other operating cash flows   (32)   (19)   (13)
Free cash flow   63   270   (207)
(Net expenditures) net proceeds from company acquisitions and disposals   (63)   115   (178)
Other changes   26   (4)   30
Decrease in net debt   26   381   (355)

The operating free cash flow proxy increased by 6.7% or CHF 34 million year-on-year to CHF 543 million. This was mainly due to the improved operating income before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) as well as lower capital expenditure. Free cash flow declined by CHF 207 million year-on-year to CHF 63 million, which was largely attributable to the change in net working capital. Net working capital grew by CHF 264 million compared with the end of 2021 (prior year: increase of CHF 21 million). Net working capital rose as a result of prepaid expenses for the current financial year as well as a payment of CHF 100 million from litigation concluded in the prior year.

Net expenditures for company acquisitions and disposals in the first quarter of 2022 mainly included expenditure for the acquisition of MTF Group companies. In the first quarter of 2021, net proceeds from acquisitions and disposals included proceeds of CHF 126 million from the sale of the participation in Belgacom International Carrier Services.