BRUSSELS, May 5 (Reuters) - Belgian telecoms group Proximus on Friday reported better-than-expected core profit for the first quarter, as cost cuts and a growing number of customers offset an end to additional charges for using mobile phones abroad.
Proximus said it added customers for its TV and fixed-line internet products as well as mobile phone customers on monthly bills, while the number of people using prepaid cards and fixed-line telephone services declined.
In anticipation of an EU-mandated end to such charges starting in June 2017, Proximus had reduced costs for using phones abroad, lowering core profit by 17 million euros ($18.7 million) in the first quarter.
Proximus said it nevertheless increased revenues from customers on a monthly mobile phone contract, while sales from prepaid cards declined by almost a third.
The consumer business was also boosted by a rise in revenues from fixed-line internet and digital TV products as well as more consumers taking up offers combining mobile and fixed services.
The group added it had reduced costs by 4.9 percent in its domestic businesses and was confident of reaching its 150 million euros cost cutting target by 2019.
For the group as a whole, core profit before one-off items (underlying EBITDA) rose 7.5 percent in the first quarter to 449 million euros ($493.3 million), slightly above the 441 million euros expected in a Reuters poll of five analysts.
Proximus kept its 2017 outlook, for “slight growth” in its underlying EBITDA and capex of around 1 billion euros. ($1 = 0.9102 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)