BARCELONA Feb 27 Russian and emerging markets
communications network operator VimpelCom Ltd on Monday
reported a return to growth in the final quarter of last year
and posted solid progress in its 18-month-old turnaround
strategy, including a six-fold dividend increase.
For 2017, the company lifted its growth target for revenue,
excluding acquisitions and disposals, to the low single digits
as a percentage, compared with its prior outlook for flat to a
low single digit. It also boosted its cash flow goal.
For the fourth quarter, VimpelCom posted core earnings of
$783 million while service revenue rose 3 percent across its
dozen country markets, with strength in Pakistan and Ukraine
offset by ongoing weakness in Algeria.
VimpelCom generated $588 million of underlying equity-free
cash flow in 2016 and raised its 2017 target to a range of $700
million to $800 million and to more than $1 billion for 2018,
reflecting a return to stable growth and cost-cutting as it
works to become a faster-moving data-driven company.
Introducing a new dividend policy, VimpelCom said it would
pay out 23 cents a share, including a 3.5 cent interim dividend
paid in December and a final dividend of 19.5 cents to be paid
in April. Three years earlier, it slashed its expected dividend
to a token 3.5 cents from 80 cents. (reut.rs/2leuT2c)
(Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing)