BT revenues rise, debt cut

Anyone spot a spring in their step?

BT has halved its debt over the last year and increased revenues, the monster telco revealed today.

Publishing its prelims for the year ended March 31 BT announced that net debt had fallen from £27.9 billion to £13.7 billion.

The improvement comes as BT raised £5.9 billion through a rights issue last June, demerged its wireless division, mmO2, in November, pulled out of its Concert joint venture, and flogged a number of its overseas assets.

What's left is a compay that's more focused on its domestic market and with a clear commitment to broadband as a central plank of its strategy.

That pledge came in April when BT announced details to offer a "no frill" broadband access product in the autumn and set a target of five million broadband connections in the UK by 2006.

Of course, all that's for the future.

Looking back, turnover for the year was up 8 per cent to £18.4 billion from £17.1 billion.

But pre-tax profit for the year was down 28 per cent to £1.27 billion from £1.76 billion a year before.

BT also said it would pay a dividend - the first time since 2000.

Said BT chief exec Ben Verwaayen: "Our primary objectives are to enhance customer satisfaction and grow BT's business profitably.

"The strategic plan, which we announced in April, confirmed BT is a single integrated telecommunications company focused on achieving profitable growth," he said.

By late morning shares in BT had risen 13.5p (5.27 per cent) to 269.5p.

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