Expansion pushes France Télécom revenue up

France Télécom SA's consolidated revenue, fuelled by its international expansion, rose 31.9 percent in the first nine months of the year, the company announced Thursday.

Revenue for the nine months rose to 31.6 billion euros (US$28.7 billion, as of Sept. 30, the last day of the period being reported). For the full year, the French telecommunication company expects to meet its goal of revenue growth in excess of 25 percent. Last year, revenue grew 23.7 percent.

The growth reflects France Télécom's expansion outside of France. The results of IP (Internet Protocol) services provider Equant NV were consolidated on July 1, contributing to the 106.4 percent rise in revenue from international activities, France Télécom said. International business accounted for 35.2 percent of the company's total revenue in nine-month period, compared with 25.8 percent in 2000.

Excluding the effects of consolidations, the group's revenue grew a more sedate 7.3 percent, the result of ongoing expansion in the wireless and Internet services, France Télécom said.

The company limits its nine-month report to revenue figures. Earnings are only reported biannually.

Mobile telephony company Orange SA, with the bulk of its business in France and the U.K., contributed 10.8 billion euros to France Télécom's revenue, up 29.7 percent on a pro forma basis. Orange had 37.1 million customers on Sept. 30, compared with 26.2 million last year, France Télécom said.

Wanadoo SA contributed 1 billion euros to the group's revenue. The ISP (Internet Service Provider) had 5.3 million customers on Sept. 30, up 161 percent from last year. The growth is attributable in large part to the takeover of FreeServe PLC in the U.K., France Télécom said.

Revenue from fixed-line domestic voice and data services declined 1 percent on a comparable basis (reflecting contractual changes) in the nine months. A 4.9 percent drop in revenue from fixed-line services was largely offset by a 15.2 percent increase in revenue from corporate network services, France Télécom said.

Shares in France Télécom (FTE.PAR) were down 4.42 percent at 42.64 euros in early afternoon trading on the Paris stock exchange. The stock is has lost almost 52 percent of its value since Jan. 1.

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