BT's profits leapt by over #1 billion during the second quarter of its financial year, boosted by the sale of its interest in US operator MCI.
Profits for the second quarter ended 30 September 1998 hit #1.3 billion compared with a reported loss of #41 million during the same quarter in 1997.
Turnover increased to #4.4 billion for the quarter, up from #4 billion a year earlier. Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 8.1 pence, 7.3 per cent higher than last year's.
After MCI's merger with Worldcom in September, BT sold its interest in MCI to Worldcom for #4.2 million, at a profit of #1.13 billion. BT subsequently bought MCI's stake in Concert Communications Services for #606 million, giving it 100 per cent ownership in the international operator.
BT is surviving the economic slowdown in the UK, according BT chairman Iain Vallance. "In the UK, there is evidence of a slowing economy although demand for BT's products and services continues to be strong. Our trading performance remains healthy," he said in a statement.
Mobile phone turnover, including Cellnet, increased 21 per cent for the period to #639 million. Calls from BT's fixed network to mobile phones also boosted growth, the company said.
BT's joint ventures reported a combined loss of #56 million during the quarter, driven mainly by Viag Interkom in Germany and Telfort in the Netherlands, which have both recently launched mobile phone services.
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