Neuf Cegetel back in black for '06


PARIS -- French telecommunications group Neuf Cegetel got back on track in 2006, posting a full-year net profit of €213 million ($279 million) and reversing a €129 million loss in 2005, the company announced Wednesday.

The group expects revenues to grow by more than 40% in 2007 in its mass market division and by 5%-10% in its enterprises unit.

Neuf Cegetel added 1 million new ADSL subscribers in 2006, half of which were due to the acquisition of AOL France's Internet access business, with the other half coming as a result of "robust organic growth," the company said in a press statement.

With 2.2 million ADSL subscribers at the end of 2006, the group has a 18% market share after just three years in the sector. The company is offering a dividend for shareholders of €0.40 (50 cents) per share.

The group hopes that its new fiber-optic offer, also announced Wednesday, will bring in 250,000 customers and reach more than 1 million homes by the end of 2009.

The €300 million ($393.7 million) fiber-optics-based strategy for broadband access will be available to consumers in Paris in April and aims to have a million homes throughout the city and its suburbs wired for the service by end of 2009.

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