* Q4 core profit 337 mln euros vs poll average 332 mln
* Q4 revenue 1.12 bln euros vs poll 1.10 bln
* Sees 2012 sales, core profit nearly matching 2011 levels
(Recasts with comments from news conference)
By Michael Shields
VIENNA, Feb 23 Telekom Austria AG
wants to claw back 20 million euros ($26.5 million)
from people suspected of bilking the company in a web of
corruption scandals that have damaged its image, Chief Executive
Hannes Ametsreiter said.
Near-daily headlines about allegations of slush funds,
political payoffs and share price manipulation have beset
Telekom Austria for months and prompted a separate round of
discussion at its annual results news conference on Thursday.
Telekom will go after 20 people in cases "where payments are
not matched by services", Ametsreiter told reporters. "Wherever
there was illegal activity, we want the money back for the
Ametsreiter, who last year repaid a bonus he got thanks to a
share price surge in 2004 that investigators are checking for
possible market manipulation, denied any wrongdoing himself and
said he had not considered resigning.
Markets shrugged off the uproar and sent Telekom shares 2.8
percent higher to 8.79 euros by 1133 GMT after it forecast 2012
sales and core profit could weather unrelenting price pressure
and weak emerging European economies to nearly match 2011
It expected 2012 revenue of around 4.4 billion euros ($5.8
billion) and adjusted earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of around 1.5 billion,
versus 4.46 billion and 1.53 billion, respectively, in 2011.
Ametsreiter said he expected a "decent" net profit in 2012
that would surpass 100 million euros. Analysts polled by Reuters
expect on average net profit of 169 million.
TALKS WITH PECIK
It said it would sharpen its focus on stabilising operating
free cash flow and customer service while rolling out new
products and controlling costs and capital expenditure.
This would contribute 40 million euros to operating free
cash flow this year and another 90 million in 2013.
Ametsreiter gave few clues about behind-the-scenes talks
with an investor group led by Ronnie Pecik that has built a
stake of just over 20 percent in Telekom, in which Austrian
state holding company OeIAG has a 28.4 percent stake.
He said only there was a "good basis for communication" with
Pecik, whose partner Naguib Sawiris said in a magazine interview
he was a long-term investor in the group.
Fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA fell 4.7 percent to 337
million euros, compared with the average estimate of 332 million
in the Reuters poll.
It lost a net 321.5 million euros in the quarter -- worse
than expected in the poll -- after taking a writedown linked to
hyperinflation in Belarus, a market Ametsreiter said he had no
immediate plans to exit.
The company operates in Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia,
Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Telekom had been trading around 16.5 times 12-month forward
earnings, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, which weights
analyst estimates by their previous accuracy. That is a premium
to rival Deutsche Telekom on a multiple of 12.
($1 = 0.7552 euros)
(Editing by Will Waterman)