BCE, Canada’s biggest communications company, earned CAD667 million (USD623.4 million) in net profit for the second quarter of 2007, compared with CAD494 million a year earlier, helped by a CAD268 million tax settlement and the CAD110 million sale of a directory business by its Bell Aliant subsidiary. Profit before special items was CAD445 million. Revenue edged up by 1.5% year-on-year to CAD4.44 billion, whilst turnover at its core Bell Canada unit rose 1.4% to CAD3.65 billion, helped by growth in video, wireless and broadband operations. Importantly for BCE, its wireless business appeared to steady itself following six months of weak performance, as the company added a net 63,000 new subscribers, bringing its subscriber base to 5.9 million at the end of June 2007. While subscriber growth was weaker than the year-ago quarter, when Bell added 97,000 new wireless customers, it easily beat the first quarter of 2007, when only 13,000 new subscribers were added. The Montreal-based company said it added 29,000 net new high speed internet subscribers, bringing its total to 1.96 million. It confirmed its earlier 2007 outlook of 3% to 5% revenue growth for Bell Canada and EBITDA growth of 4% to 6%.
BCE said it expects its sale to an investor group that includes the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, as well as US private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners, to close in the first quarter of 2008.