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UPDATE 1-Italy's Poste pays interim dividend after beating Q3 expectations

(Adds details from company’s presentation)

MILAN, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Poste Italiane said it would pay an interim dividend of 0.162 euros per share after beating third-quarter profit expectations thanks to strong growth in its parcel business.

The Italian postal operator said on Thursday its earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) came in at 479 million euros ($564 million), up 4% on the same period of last year and ahead of a 451 million euro analyst consensus published by the group.

Growth in parcel delivery and its insurance business helped Poste offset the negative impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The traditional mail and parcel division recorded an operating loss of 50 million euros, beating analysts expectations for a loss of 77 million and showing an improvement on the same period of last year.

The result came on the back of a 46% rise in parcel revenue and an increase in the average parcel tariff, according to slides in a company presentation to analysts.

The group has recently opened a new parcel sorting centre in central Italy and will open a second in the coming months to tap into a recent increase in e-commerce among Italians.

The fall in letter delivery is expected to continue, with an expected decline of 20% in the whole of 2020, according to the presentation.

Poste, which also offers financial and insurance services and operates a digital payments business, said the other three business divisions all reported an operating profit.

The insurance business recorded an EBIT of 279 million euros, slightly better than expected by analysts, with its solvency ratio improving to 250%.

The group reported an increase of 20.3 billion euros in its total financial assets since December.

Third quarter total revenue was almost flat compared with last year at 2.6 billion euros. (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Mark Potter)