April 9, 2014 / 10:06 AM / in 4 years

KPN will never return to pre-2012 dividend levels - CEO

AMSTERDAM, April 9 (Reuters) - Dutch telecommunications group KPN will “never again” pay out as much in dividends to shareholders as it did before 2012, its chief executive said in an interview with a Dutch newspaper published on Wednesday.

Eelco Blok told the Financieele Dagblad that the fixed-line and mobile operator aimed to be a healthy company that paid a dividend.

“But we’re never going to pay out as much to shareholders as we did before 2012,” he added. “That is not in KPN’s long-term interests.” The company confirmed the report was accurate but declined to elaborate.

KPN paid a dividend of 0.52 cents a share in 2011, 0.06 in 2012 and paid no dividend in 2013.

Blok said the company’s financial results had been “disappointing” since he took the company’s top job three years ago, but promised that EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) and cashflow would stabilise and start to improve by the end of this year.

“The reality is that competition grew, especially in mobile. The economy was also not favourable ... The recovery in the Netherlands took longer than in other countries,” he said.

EBITDA was 6.3 billion euros ($8.7 billion) in 2011, but fell sharply over the following two years, to 2.9 billion euros in 2013.

KPN last year beat off a takeover bid from Carlos Slim’s America Movil. Blok said relations with America Movil, which owns nearly 27 percent of KPN, had since improved and that two of its board members were once again attending meetings.

“I‘m optimistic we can intensify our cooperation” in purchasing and other areas, he said.

$1 = 0.7249 Euros Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Mark Potter

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