Oct 31, 2019

BT holds dividend as fibre broadband push accelerates

BT held its dividend after reporting first-half results that showed modest declines in revenue and profit, in line with expectations. BT is in talks with the government over a massive investment plan to upgrade the country's broadband networks from copper to full fibre lines. Revenue for the half dropped 2 per cent to £11.4bn while earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation beat expectations even as they fell 3 per cent to £3.9bn. Pre-tax profit was flat at £1.3bn as cost cutting, including the first waves of 13,000 job cuts, helped to offset an 18 per cent rise in network investment as it launched 5G and expanded its full fibre network to cover 1.8m homes. There was no update on the sale of various international networks, including Ireland and Italy, which could provide more cash to invest in full fibre. Philip Jansen, BT chief executive, said that its Openreach network division is passing a home or business with a new full fibre line every 26 seconds as the pace of its roll out continues.

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