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May 27, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Cable & Wireless Plc saw results for the year ended March 31 ahead of expectations with pre-tax profit up 19% to ?1,088m on turnover up 23% at ?4,699m. Executive chairman Lord Young espressed his joy at the results saying that it was due to a strong performance by almost all of the firm’s business units and reflected an underlying trend. Mercury, Cable & Wireless’s operation in the UK, and 80% owned by Cable saw an increase of 21% to ?1,469m with operating profit up 27% to ?244m and the number of customers hitting the 1m barrier. The Mercury One-2-One personal communications service launched in the second half of last year, although not profitable, had achieved 62,500 customers at the fiscal year end. As a special treat the firm announced that the 100,000th customer who buys a phone, a figure expected within the next three weeks, will get free national phone calls until the year 2000. Lord Young hopes that the lucky winner is not a teenager!. During the year the firm expanded its operations in the Baltic cluster, in particular in Latvia and also St Petersburg as well as extending business within the Caribbean by securing a licence to provide mobile telephone services in West Colombia. Turnover in the Caribbean grew 29% to ?477m with operating profit up 45% to ?154m; however, as a result of the development of new systems and services in Europe, this market incurred an operating loss of ?24m, excluding the UK figures. Hong Kong Telecommunications Ltd, 57.5% owned by Cable, saw an increase of 26% to ?2,081m and operating profit was up 34% to ?739m. Hong Kong Telecom and Cable are hopeful of getting a large chunk of the business in China as and when the Chinese government loosens restrictions on foreign companies providing telecommunication services there. At present installation of a telephone line costs a year’s salary and there’s a three-year waiting list. But Linus Cheung, chief executive of Hong Kong Telecom commented that patience was the keyword in this particular market. In Africa, now that South Africa has a new political system, Cable & Wireless foresees a potential growth market in the country among the emerging black African middle class with disposable income. The company’s earnings per share stood at 23.6 pence at the year end, compared with 23.7 pence last time and recommends a final dividend of 5.65p.

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