UPDATE 1-Finnish telecom Elisa reports Q1 profit up nearly 7%

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HELSINKI, April 22 (Reuters) - Elisa on Wednesday reported a 6.9% rise in first-quarter profit as growth in mobile and digital services helped the Finnish telecom service provider.

It warned that the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 could impact its year but reiterated it expects 2020 revenue and EBITDA “at the same level or slightly higher than in 2019”.

Its quarterly operating profit before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 166 million euros ($180 million), in line with the 164.6 million expected by analysts in a Refinitiv poll.

CEO Veli-Matti Mattila said the January-March quarter had been strong despite the challenging circumstances, with revenue increasing 6% to 468 million euros.

The revenue growth was “mainly due to growth in mobile and digital services, equipment sales and the Polystar acquisition,” Mattila said.

Last June, Elisa acquired Swedish Polystar, a global provider of analytics, assurance and monitoring software solutions for mobile operators for 70 million euros.

“Another factor contributing to mobile market growth has been the increased network capacity and demand for higher 4G and 5G speeds,” the company said.

Mattila said Elisa had adjusted its operations in several areas due to the coronavirus crisis.

“We have been helping our corporate customers, for example with their increasing demand for virtual tools to be able to work remotely,” Mattila said.

The epidemic’s negative impact had included lower mobile churn levels and equipment sales and less roaming revenue as people travel less, the company said.

Elisa competes with Telia and Telenor’s DNA in Finland.

$1 = 0.9217 euros Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Tarmo Virki; editing by Himani Sarkar and Jason Neely