Poland's Netia plans buyback, may return to dividend payouts

WARSAW Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:20am EST

WARSAW Feb 21 (Reuters) - Poland's No.2 telecoms group Netia plans to spend 128 million zlotys ($41.2 million) on a share buyback programme this year and may hand back a further 145 million to shareholders in 2014.

The company, which has been expanding through acquisitions, said on Thursday it had swung to a net loss of 88 million zlotys in 2012 from a profit of 249 million the previous year on impairment and acquisition costs.

Netia has not paid dividends in recent years, preferring to use its funds to buy smaller rivals as part of efforts to better compete with market leader TPSA, a unit of France Telecom, and cable TV providers.

Chief Executive Miroslaw Godlewski said in a statement the payout plans reflected the confidence of the group's management that its performance would stabilise during 2013.

He said the possible 2014 payout of 145 million zlotys would be worth 0.4 zlotys per share. This year's planned buyback would involve the purchase of 4.2 percent of the company's equity and would equate to around 0.35 zlotys per share.

The company, which has already bought back 8.3 percent of its shares, said it would hand back the cash in the form of further buybacks, dividends, or capital redemptions.

After a battle for residential internet users that has weighed on its results, Netia said it expects its business segment to be its main growth engine and it would focus on developing services for corporate customers.

Shares in Netia, which has a market capitalisation of $500 million, have shed 34 percent of their value over the last year, underperforming Warsaw's broad WIG index, which was up 9 percent. ($1 = 3.1096 Polish zlotys) (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by David Holmes)

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