BT Ireland's annual revenues rise by 4%

Updated: Friday, 10 May 2013 10:10

BT Ireland has reported a 4% increase in revenues to £739.9m (€876m) for the full year to the end of March.

The company said its profits were flat after investments in several large retail and wholesale contracts were offset by continued cost cutting initiatives.

Key wholesale contracts agreed during the year include deals with AirSpeed Telecom, UTV and Sky Ireland. The company also signed deals with Allianz, Bank of Ireland, Irish Life, Revenue and the Department of Justice and Equality.

BT Ireland said its wholesale division had a ''strong performance'' despite the impact of regulated mobile termination rates and market consolidation. 

It said that investment in its network infrastructure is boosting growth opportunities.

Its business division also increased annual revenues, despite the tough economic conditions. It reported good progress in the public sector, both in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, its UK parent company unveiled a bigger-than-expected jump in profits today as the telecoms giant highlighted its financial firepower ahead of its £738m Premier League battle against Sky.

A day after announcing that it will be offering free live Premier League action to its broadband customers, BT said profits jumped 21% to £833m in the quarter to March 31. Underlying revenues were flat against expectations of a 2.8% fall.

The company's shares jumped by 8% today as it also said it added 136,000 retail broadband customers in the period.

The launch of BT Sport is the company's response to satellite broadcaster BSkyB's efforts to win more internet customers by bundling broadband together with its TV and phone services.

The company also raised its outlook for the current financial year, despite the level of investment going into its TV offering. BT said it was looking to cut costs by around £200m a year and that it was expecting £400m in "specific restructuring costs" in the current financial year.

BT said this would involve some "people costs" as some employees would be given "the option to pursue other activities". But no compulsory redundancies were expected.

Chief executive Ian Livingston said the figures showed BT was well-placed as it laid out plans to invest in the future. "In an environment where it is easier to focus only on the short term, we are investing in our future and delivering growth in profits and dividends. We have a lot more to do but we are now a lot better positioned to do it,' Mr Livingston said.

BT is muscling in on Sky's dominance of sport after winning a three-year deal to show 38 Premier League games a season, while also cutting its broadband price for new customers.

The company expects earnings to fall slightly this financial year as a result of investment in the move - together with higher pensions charges - but start to rise again in the following two years.

Underlying revenues were expected to show an "improving trend". Full-year results showed they declined by 3%, although profits before tax were up 11% to £2.7 billion and the proposed shareholder dividend was raised 14% to 9.5 pence.

The revenue fall was blamed on falling income in BT's traditional base of telephone call and line charges, as well as tough conditions in Europe and the financial services sector, as well as price cuts forced by regulation

The company, whose network is also used by other internet providers, saw its own number of retail broadband customers rise to 6.7 million. TV customers were up 40,000 in the quarter to 810,000.