BCE earnings dive on restructuring costs

Takes in $191.5 mil, down 39% from 2007

TORONTO -- Canadian phone giant BCE on Wednesday posted sharply lower third-quarter earnings due to restructuring costs as it pursues a $34.8 billion leveraged buyout stalled by the credit crunch.

Montreal-based BCE said that it earned CAN$248 million ($191.5 million) during the three months ending Sept. 30, down 39% from a profit of CAN$406 million in 2007.

BCE revenue was flat at $4.46 billion ($3.45 billion) during the quarter, compared with a year-earlier CAN$4.47 billion.

The phone giant, which also has a stake in the national CTV television network and runs the domestic satellite TV service Bell ExpressVu, recorded a one-time charge of CAN$320 million to cut jobs ahead of a planned privatization.

BCE added 33,000 high-speed Internet customers during the latest quarter, for 2.04 million subscribers in all, while Bell ExpressVu revenue jumped 10% to CAN$363 million ($280.5 million).

As the leveraged buyout market has collapsed in recent months, the BCE privatization has become the Canadian poster child for the market meltdown.

The buyers, a consortium that includes U.S. players Providence Equity Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, reiterated Wednesday that they intend to close the deal by Dec. 11, despite the credit market.
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