BT Group


said its quarterly results came in ahead of estimates as the company slashed its net debt by 50% and declared its first dividend since its debt problems began.

The British telecommunications company posted pretax profit, excluding charges, of 371 million pounds, a 43% increase from 259 million pounds a year ago. Analysts were expecting around 300 pounds. The company posted special charges in the quarter of 2.9 billion pounds (around $4.23 billion) caused by its Ignite data operation, but the charges were expected by analysts.

Quarterly revenue was also up about 5% to 4.7 billion pounds from 4.51 billion pounds last year, in line with estimates.

The company said it had cut its debt load to 13.7 billion pounds, more than 50% lower than its 27.9 billion pounds a year ago. BT has changed management and refocused its business models since then, and the company declared its first quarterly dividend of 2 pence since its debt problems began. Analysts had been expecting a dividend of 3 pence.

EBITDA from continuing operations was 5.75 billion pounds for the quarter, 26 million pounds lower than last year.

Perhaps most important to analysts, BT said there was no erosion of its core telecom business in the U.K., as the former monopoly was able to maintain its customer base.

Shares of BT Group closed at $36.62 Wednesday before the news.