State-controlled Belgacom's bumper pay-outs unlikely to continue-CEO

BRUSSELS Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:27am EST

BRUSSELS Jan 10 (Reuters) - Belgacom will probably not pay an exceptionally high dividend in the future, as the company balances shareholder payouts with investment needs in its networks, its new chief executive Dominique Leroy said on Friday.

Belgacom, which is 53.5 percent owned by the Belgian state and whose dividends are a welcome stream of income for the country, paid a total dividend of 2.49 euros per share for 2012, up from 2.18 the previous year.

The group has yet to announce its total payout for 2013, after paying an interim dividend of 0.50 euros in December.

"In the past two years we have had an exceptional dividend. I think that will be difficult to maintain in the future. In any case it will have to be part of the discussions with the government and the board," Leroy told Belgian radio station La Premiere.

However Leroy added that she believed Belgacom would continue to pay some sort of dividend.

"We are still at a profitability level at which we can continue to invest and remunerate our shareholders," she said.

Belgacom's shares were down 1.7 percent at 21.165 euros by 1325 GMT on Friday, when the STOXX Europe 600 telecoms sector index was up 0.5 percent. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Greg Mahlich)