October 17, 2019 / 6:32 AM / a month ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Telia Q3 tops forecast; co caps share buyback on bleak outlook

(Corrects to add tag in headline)

* Adjusted EBITDA comes in better than expected

* Net sales up 2.4% for third quarter

* Slower-than-expected FY start affects financial leverage

Oct 17 (Reuters) - Telia Co on Thursday posted better-than-expected quarterly core earnings, but the Nordic telecom group said it would cap its share-buyback programme at 10 billion crowns ($1.02 billion) due to a weak economic outlook.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the third quarter came in at 8.26 billion Swedish crowns ($844.76 million) excluding non-recurring items, up from 6.98 billion crowns last year.

The company’s EBITDA was expected to come in at 8.03 billion Swedish crowns, according to a Refinitiv poll.

“We have previously stated that the second half of 2019 would be an improvement versus the first half of the year and the third quarter of 2019 confirms this,” said acting Chief Executive Christian Luiga.

However, the company said it would wind up a share-buyback programme at 10 billion crowns, less than what was previously planned.

Luiga was appointed as the chief executive officer in September after previous CEO Johan Dennelind stepped down in August.

A slower-than-expected start to 2019 had impacted the financial leverage negatively, the company said.

“Together with a somewhat weaker economic outlook in general and to keep flexibility to invest in the coming years, the board of directors have decided not to execute on the remaining SEK 5 billion($510.88 million)of the three-year share buyback programme,” the company said.

Net sales climbed 2.4% to 21.18 billion Swedish crowns ($2.16 billion), compared with 20.68 billion crowns last year.

Telia has been withdrawing from central Asia markets to focus on Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia, and is instead focusing on expanding its footprint in the television business. ($1 = 9.7871 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Colm Fulton, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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