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BT’s ‘ground-breaking’ year delivers 14% rise in profits

Gavin PattersonBT hailed a “ground-breaking” year for the company and further plans to expand in each of its business divisions.

The company’s offering of fixed line, broadband and television was broadened by its re-entry into the mobile market through the £12.5 billion acquisition of EE.

It unveiled a 14% rise in underlying profit to £2.6 billion and similar increase in its full year dividend.

Gavin Patterson, chief executive (pictured), said: “It’s been a ground-breaking year for BT, in which we’ve made some key decisions and announced some major investments to underpin the future growth of the business.  Profit before tax and free cash flow have both grown strongly and we have delivered or beaten the outlook we set at the start of the year.”

Superfast broadband network now passes more than three-quarters of the UK and BT has announced plans to upgrade to ultrafast. 

It said it delivered its best ever performance for fibre connections in the fourth quarter with Openreach adding almost half a million premises to the network. The retail business delivered a record-breaking 266,000 of these connections. 

“Our BT Sport TV channels are now in more than 5.2 million homes, with the customer base growing again in the quarter,” said Patterson. “We’re pleased to have secured FA Premier League football rights for a further three years, and an extension with Aviva Premiership Rugby for four more years.  With exclusive live football from the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, we’ll be showing even more top sporting action from this summer.

“For our business customers, we launched a number of innovative services this year including BT Assure Threat Defence, BT One Phone and BT Cloud Voice.  And while in the UK public sector trading remains tough, we continue to see good growth in Asia and the Middle East.

“We will continue to deliver on our investments and improve the service we provide to our customers.  This year we recruited 2,500 new engineers and more than 500 new agents into our UK contact centres, with over 500 new apprentices across the group. 

“Each of our customer-facing lines of business made improvements in service this year.  We have increased the speed of service delivery, repaired faults faster and fixed more customer issues first time.  But we recognise we’re not yet where we want to be and this will continue to be a priority for us. 

“We made further progress with transforming our costs, contributing to a 6% decline in operating costs4 in the fourth quarter.  We’ve reorganised our business, increased productivity and streamlined our processes.

“Our performance during the year is reflected in our full year dividend, which is up 14%. Our results and the investments we are making position us well for the future and enable us to increase our free cash flow outlook for the coming year.”

The proposed final dividend us 8.5p, up 13%, giving a full year dividend of 12.4p, up 14%.

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