If you say a thing often enough, it may just come true. So it is that Felix Wittlin, chairman of Berne-based telecommunications equipment manufacturer Ascom Holding AG, is saying that he expects the company to return to net profit this year, but wisely declines to make a specific forecast. Wittlin also said Ascom was budgeting for a decent operating result in 1997 after orders in the first quarter came in clearly higher than a year ago, even if sales were slightly lower in the period. Ascom also said restructuring provisions equivalent to $103m taken in 1996 should cover all legacies of the past. These provisions were not taken to make Ascom look more desirable for a merger or alliance with another company, Wittlin insisted. The precautionary provisions were not taken to beautify us for a marriage, he said. Ascom plunged into a group net loss of $87.0m in 1996 from a 1995 net profit of $17m at current exchange rates. Ascom also announced that it had taken over the previous joint venture in telepaging with L M Ericsson Telefon AB by buying Ericsson’s 40% stake. The company says that by acquiring the minority in Ascom Ericsson Transmission Ltd, it has completed the realignment of Public Networks business towards telecommunications offerings and carrier access. It did not elaborate on the acquisition terms. The joint venture in on-site paging was announced in 1995. And the Swiss company has also signed an agreement to sell its Nexion subsidiary pending approval by the US regulatory authorities.