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Troubled telecoms equipment manufacturer Marconi has reaffirmed its intentions to reduce its debt mountain to between £2.7 billion and £3.2 billion by the end of March 2002.

Publishing its interim results today there was little good news to cheer the hearts of investors who've seen Marconi's share price fall more than 90 per cent in the last year.

Marconi made a first half pre-tax loss of £5.1 billion on H1 turnover of £2.6 billion.

The Group's net debt rose significantly to £4.3 billion at the end of September - up more than £1 billion in six months - as a result of worsening trading performance.

In a grim statement the company said that trading conditions in the first half of the year were extremely difficult, with "unprecedented declines in spending on network infrastructure among customers in most geographic markets".

And in a bleak outlook, the company said it was unable to give any guidance concerning sales and operating profit for the full financial year.

Still, Marconi is hell-bent on cutting overheads in a bid to slash debt and see itself through this difficult time. It claims operating costs were down 12 per cent in Q2 compared to Q1 and recorded positive operating cash flow during the three months to September.

In a statement, Mike Parton, chief exec, said: "The new management team is fully engaged repositioning Marconi and beginning to improve performance.

"Our specific focus is on cost reduction and cash generation and we can report some early progress," he said.

Shares in Marconi were down 1.1p (3.54 per cent) at 30p in early morning trading. ®

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