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Swisscom pays price for debitel deal

Swisscom posted a slump in first-half net profit, while sales remained flat

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s leading telecommunications operator saw first-half net income plummet by 20 per cent to SFr757 million ($603 million).

Swisscom said the loss-making sale of its 95 per cent stake in the German mobile phone company, debitel, had hit its balance sheet.

Core profit fell by 5.6 per cent to SFr2.3 billion, the majority state-owned company said in a statement on Friday.

Swisscom chief executive Jens Alder described the figures as satisfactory, adding that business was steady.

However, analysts said the overall result had fallen short of expectations.

“The results are somewhat disappointing,” said Vontobel analyst Panagiotis Spiliopoulos.

Flat sales

Overall sales – excluding debitel - were almost flat at just under SFr5 billion. Swisscom sold debitel in June at a loss of SFr238 million.

Swisscom reiterated its forecast for 2004 core profit of around SFr4.3 billion and revenue of SFr10 billion.

“Without debitel… and in the face of continuing strong competition and unchanged regulatory conditions, [we] expect to close the current financial year with revenue of around SFr10 billion and operating income of approximately SFr4.3 billion,” the company said.

The country’s leading telecommunications operator has limited growth opportunities in its saturated home fixed-line market.

Fixed lines and mobiles

Swisscom Fixnet posted a 0.2 per cent rise in year-on-year revenue to SFr2.3 million.

The company is also fighting for market share in the mobile phone business against Sunrise, owned by Denmark’s TDC, and France Telecom’s Orange.

But Swisscom Mobile underlined its position as market leader by boosting its customer base by 223,000 to 3.89 million clients.

“This is very good. It shows that it can hold on to its market share,” said one Zurich-based analyst.

The company said the expansion of the customer base more than offset the loss in revenue following the termination of an accord between Swisscom Mobile and another mobile provider a year ago.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Swisscom half-year net income: SFr757 million ($603 million).
Number of Swisscom Mobile customers: 3.9 million.
Number of full-time employees: 15,721.

end of infobox

In brief

Swisscom recorded a 20 per cent drop in first-half net profit to SFr757 million ($603 million).

The company said it was hit by a SFr238 million currency loss related to the sale of its stake in German mobile service unit, Debitel.

Swisscom reiterated its profit forecast of around SFr4.3 billion for the full year.

end of infobox


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