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EDITIONS
Friday, 14 February, 2003, 19:22 GMT
BT looks to broadband
Computer
BT is aiming for 1 million broadband customers
BT has reported slower sales growth for 2002, but said it could drive expansion through its broadband arm which provides high-speed internet access.

BT has placed broadband at the heart of its growth strategy and with 650,000 connections so far is well on its way to a target of one million customers by the middle of this year.

The news came as BT reported a 37% rise in profits, to 521m, for the three months to December 2002.

But overall sales growth was lower and the firm's shares fell over 6% to 171p.

The firm also warned that its pension fund could be more than 1.5bn short.

The telecoms company said its pension fund valuation for the end of 2002 would not be calculated until May.

But it said the group's actuary believed it could show a deficit of between 1bn and 1.5bn.

Topping up

BT blamed the shortfall on the plunging stock markets, which have eroded the value of pension investments.

A spokesman for BT Group told BBC News Online that the company had been investing 200m in its pension fund since 1999 and that this would be enough to make up any shortfall.

"We've said for some time that we're going to put in top-up funds of 200m a year," he said.

"Our actuaries have looked at the scheme and say the 200m will not have to change significantly."

Cashing in

BT reduced its debt in the period by 195m to 12.9bn.

It said this figure would fall significantly when it banked the 2.6bn it received from Vivendi for selling its stake in France's Cegetel.

Vivendi fought off a rival bid from Vodafone to buy BT's 26% stake in the French telecom group, which owns France's second biggest mobile operator SFR.

See also:

08 Oct 02 | Business
18 Sep 02 | Business
13 Sep 02 | Technology
09 Sep 02 | Technology
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