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Freeserve makes larger loss

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French ISP Wanadoo has notched up a profit a year ahead of forecasts.

Publishing its full-year results today, the company reported a net income of 30m euros, compared to a net loss of 193m euros in 2001.

Earnings before interest etc (EBITDA) rolled in at 90m euros compared to an EBITDA loss of 64m euros the year before.

Total revenues jumped from 1.56bn euros in 2001 to 2.07bn euros last year.

Wanadoo chairman and chief exec, Olivier Sichel, said that the results "reflect the successful efforts to spur innovation and build profitable performance that Wanadoo has pursued over the past years".

Indeed, that certainly appears so for Wanadoo's ISP operation in France, which saw an EBITDA loss of 120m euros in 2001 turned into a 7m euro EBITDA profit in 2002.

Spain also managed to cut its EBITDA loss from 60 million euros in 2001 to 55 million euros in 2002. Losses also narrowed in Wanadoo's operation in The Netherlands, Belgium and Morocco.

In the UK, though, Wanadoo's Freeserve racked up increased losses of 92m euros in 2002 from 74m euros the year before.

Clarifying the numbers, Wanadoo said that Freeserve's EBITDA loss went from 76 per cent of revenues in 2001 to 38 percent of revenues in 2002.

Despite this improvement, Wanadoo is still taking action to cut its losses in the UK.

In a statement it said: "In view of a regulatory environment in the country that is unfavourable to ISPs competing with the incumbent carrier, Wanadoo has initiated a programme aimed at enhancing income performance to cut its losses in the UK market, based on better control of network and customer service costs, as well as diversification of distribution channels."

No one at Freeserve or Wanadoo was available at the time of writing to explain exactly what this might mean.

However, as well as speculation that Freeserve could be sold, last week it sneaked out a £1 a month price rise that will take effect from March 25 for its Freeserve AnyTime product (it'll now be £14.99). ®

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