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Cable & Wireless has played down suggestions of a planned takeover as the firm announced that it more than doubled its annual pre-tax profits to £249m.

The telecoms group, which has been dogged by takeover rumours for the past few months, said on Thursday that it had achieved 'better-than-expected' progress in the turnaround of its UK operation.

C&W said that net income for the year to 31 March was £174m, up from £76m a year ago. Revenues increased 3.7 per cent, or £118m from £3.23bn a year ago to £3.35bn.

The company posted underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £492m for the year to 31 March, up 20 per cent versus the previous financial year. It forecast that EBITDA for 2007/08 will be in the range of £573m to £608m.

C&W chief executive Richard Lapthorne attributed the firm's strong profits to its restructuring programme, which has led to 3,000 redundancies and a splitting of the business into two distinct divisions.

"It's been a good year. The success of the structural changes we made a year ago is there for all to see. International has performed well delivering growth in customers and revenue and, as a result, improved EBITDA.

We have made a very encouraging start to the Europe, Asia and US turnaround and we now have sufficient visibility to believe that we'll deliver on our ambitious targets. All of which reinforces our confidence in our future prospects, which is reflected in the dividend," said Lapthorne.

"I'm delighted to announce that we're recommending a 34 per cent increase in the final dividend to 4.15 pence, which with the interim of 1.7 pence gives a full year dividend of 5.85 pence, an increase of 30 per cent over 2005/06," he added.

The company also played down rumours of a takeover of the firm, with finance director Tony Rice telling reporters that it was simply "market mischief-making."

© ENN

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