January 31, 2018 / 7:56 AM / a year ago

Telenor to cut 6,000 jobs next three years in digital push

FILE PHOTO: Telenor flag flutters next to the company's headquarters in Fornebu, Norway, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor will cut about 6,000 jobs from its global workforce in the next three years as services are automated and duplication removed, it said on Wednesday.

Norway’s second largest company, with 178 million customers in 12 countries across Europe and Asia, has seen its share price rise 38 percent in the last year after boosting profits, raising its dividend and buying back shares.

Telenor cut 2,600 jobs in 2017, employing 29,700 people by the end of the year, as part of a cost reduction of 1.6 billion Norwegian crowns ($208 million) and said the momentum for cuts continued.

“We enter 2018 with clear priorities to deliver on our digital transformation agenda, to continue to seek efficiency gains and revenue growth, while simplifying our portfolio and way of work,” Chief Executive Sigve Brekke said in a statement.

Cost cuts for the 2018-2020 period were expected in a range of 1-3 percent annually, corresponding to between 450 million and 1.35 billion crowns per year, Telenor said, with an average of 2,000 jobs to go annually.

Organic growth for 2018 was seen at 1-2 percent, against 2 percent achieved in 2017, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization was seen expanding by 1-3 percent, down from 9 percent.

The company posted a near-flat fourth quarter net result attributable to shareholders of 2.2 billion Norwegian crowns, or 2.6 billion crowns when adjusted for writedowns and reversals of earlier impairments, while analysts in a Reuters poll had expected a profit of 3.43 billion.

The quarterly profit before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization and other items (adjusted EBITDA) rose to 11.8 billion Norwegian crowns from 10.6 billion a year ago, while analysts had expected a profit of 11.9 billion.

The board proposed a dividend of 8.10 crowns per share for 2017, up from 7.80 crowns for 2016 and above a forecast of 8.04 crowns in the Reuters poll. ($1 = 7.6919 Norwegian crowns)

Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Ole Petter Skonnord and Keith Weir

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