Telekom Srbija sees net profit for 2003 on steady revenue growth

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbian landline monopoly Telekom Srbija said yesterday it would post an 11 billion dinar ($190 million) net profit for 2003 and expected to pay a dividend for the first time to its shareholders in spring 2004. «Our net revenue has been steadily growing since 2001 and in 2003 we expect net revenue of some 34 billion dinars. That will mean an 11.0 billion dinar net profit,» Telekom Srbija’s general manager Drasko Petrovic told a news conference. «We must make provisions against some liabilities, leaving us with a real profit of more than 4.0 billion dinars. For the first time since Telekom Srbija was set up in 1997, our shareholders will be able to get a dividend,» he said. In 2000, when pro-Western reformers toppled Serbia’s strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Telekom Srbija posted a 2.9 billion dinar loss. The company is held 80 percent by state-owned PTT postal services and 20 percent by Greece’s OTE. Telekom Srbija was part privatized in 1997, at the height of Milosevic’s rule, when Telecom Italia and OTE together bought a 49 percent stake for around $1.0 billion. A year ago, Serbia bought back from the Italian partner its 29 percent stake for 195 million euros. Telekom Srbija also operates a GSM network, which has brought in more than 600 million dinars in monthly revenue this year. Mobile business earned a total of 600 million dinars for the whole of 2000.