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Swisscom operating profit slips

Swisscom is closing six of its call centres for directory enquiries because of growing competition

Swisscom says first quarter operating profit slipped by 3.1 per cent compared with last year to SFr1.168 billion ($730 million).

Switzerland’s main telecommunications operator said net profit was considerably lower at SFr420 million, but the comparative figure included a special gain of SFr3.88 billion due to the partial sale of Swisscom Mobile.

In a statement on Friday, Swisscom commented that the group was “in good shape” and anticipated a slight increase in revenues in 2002 against unchanged market conditions.

It commented that Swisscom aimed to maintain operating profit at last year’s level, although net income would be “considerably lower” because of non-recurring gains from the sale of real estate and the 25 per cent holding in its mobile division.

Sales were up slightly in the reporting period (+ 0.2 per cent) to SFr3.517 billion.

Competition pressures

The company said that loss of market share in its fixed network segment was negligible despite ongoing competitive pressure.

It added that the operating activities of the group continued to generate a high cash flow. The company, in which the government has a 2.7 per cent stake, pointed out that in contrast to the trend in the European telecoms sector, Swisscom had no net debt.

Swisscom also announced that its Fixnet division was closing down six of its 17 call centres for its national and international directory enquiry services due to “growing competition”.

The merger will affect some 250 employees, although no reduction in the headcount at directory enquiry services is foreseen, the statement said.

The closures have been criticised as a “questionable savings exercise”, which would affect mainly part-time women staff who would not find it possible to transfer to another call centre.

Full control of Bluewin

In a related development, Swisscom announced it would take full control of its Bluewin Internet subsidiary, buying out the eight per cent stake currently in the hands of the Tamedia publishing group.

In its comments on the first quarter performance of the divisions, Swisscom said that at SFr1.645 billion, revenues from Fixnet were up 2.2 per cent over the previous year.

Growth in mobile communications had slowed down as expected due to the high level of market penetration (72 per cent).

The net increase in new customers was 55,000, taking the customer base to more than 3.4 million.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR