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PARIS, Feb 19 (Reuters) - IT services company Atos said it expects improved operating margins and free cash flow this year, and confirmed plans to list its Worldline payment and transactions processing unit on the stock market in 2014.
The group, which programmes instruments aboard NASA's Mars science laboratory, posted full-year net profit of 262 million euros ($360 million), up 17 percent thanks to improved margins and despite a 0.9 percent dip in sales at constant exchange rates and excluding acquisition effects to 8.62 billion.
Atos said the Worldline listing was intended to accelerate its development and give it a role in the consolidation of the European payments industry. The listing plan was first revealed in November.
Atos also said it had a solid backlog of orders and would follow up 2013's share buyback programme with a further one in 2014 totalling 230 million euros. It proposed a 17 percent increase in its annual dividend to 0.70 euros per share.
The company confirmed its targets for 2016 as given in November 2013, including organic revenue growth of 2 to 3 percent and free cash flow of 450 million to 500 million euros. ($1 = 0.7272 euros) (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Mark Potter)