China Telecom first-half profit up 15.9%

HONG KONG - China Telecom said Wednesday net profit in the first six months of the year rose 15.9 per cent year-on-year, citing growth in its 3G mobile operation.

The country's largest fixed-line operator by subscribers posted unaudited profit of 10.21 billion yuan (S$2.1 billion) for the first half, compared with 8.81 billion yuan for the same period last year.

Revenue jumped 14.1 per cent to 157.52 billion yuan, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

But it decided not to pay an interim dividend, citing uncertainties over domestic regulatory policies and plans to speed up the expansion of its 3G services.

The number of 3G subscribers in the first half jumped 26.5 per cent, or 18.28 million, to 87.33 million.

"The Board of Directors has decided not to pay an interim dividend this year in order to maintain adequate funding flexibility," Wang Xiaochu, the telecom giant's chairman and chief executive officer, said in the filing. "In the second half of the year, we will firmly seize the present golden window of opportunity and focus on accelerating the scale expansion of our strategic 3G services and wireline broadband services."

Hong Kong-listed shares in the company rose 1.0 per cent by the break Wednesday to HK$4.06, compared with a 1.12 per cent loss for the broader market.