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BT swallows a third of new broadband punters

Regains lead

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BT's resurgence was confirmed today when it announced broadband and other "new wave" products had boosted fourth quarter sales and profits.

In the three months to 31 March, BT added 800,000 new broadband customers, bringing its total across retail and other parts of the business to 10.7 million. Revenue for the quarter was up three per cent on the same period a year ago at £5.29bn, delivering net income of £455m, up 16 per cent.

Delivering his last set of results, BT chairman Christopher Bland allowed himself a pat on the back: "BT has come a long way in the past five years. This is a very strong set of results which demonstrates how much has been achieved."

BT's strong broadband performance granted it 32 per cent of all new customers for the quarter. The acquisition of PlusNet added 195,000 retail broadband customers, while on its own, BT added 245,000 connections. The figures take BT's retail base to 3.66 million, retaking the lead from Virgin Media, as was leaked to the press at the weekend.

The 28 per cent sales gains in new wave ventures were more than enough to offset the continued fall-off in BT's traditional phone business, which slipped another three per cent.

During the quarter, BT rejigged its corporate setup to help it fully exploit new products across its vast market. Chief executive Ben Verwaayen said: "We have announced a new structure to take us into the next phase of our transformation as we seize the opportunity to deliver software driven services over our broadband network; providing our customers with faster, more resilient and cost effective services wherever in the world they are."

For the full year, BT's total sales were £20.22bn, bagging a £2.49bn pre-tax profit. The group's rude financial health means a payday for investors. It'll buy back £2.5bn of its own stock by 31 March, 2009. ®

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