May 10, 2012 / 6:00 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Telekom Austria keeps outlook, core earnings slip

* Adjusted EBITDA falls 8.9 pct to 361.4 mln eur

* Reiterates 2012 outlook

* Says approval process on track for buying Orange assets (Adds details and background)

VIENNA, May 10 (Reuters) - Tough conditions in emerging Europe and fierce competition pushed core earnings at Telekom Austria AG down nearly 9 percent in the first quarter, it said on Thursday, marginally beating market expectations.

It maintained its 2012 outlook while swinging back to a better-than expected net profit of 46.9 million euros ($60.65 million) from a loss in the year-ago quarter hit by restructuring costs.

That helped boost management’s cards in a looming battle with activist investors seeking seats on the group’s board.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 8.9 percent to 361.4 million euros versus the average estimate of 356 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.

It cited “intensified competition in Austria, Bulgaria and Croatia as well as macroeconomic headwinds in the CEE (central and eastern Europe) region” as factors weighing on results.

It reiterated it expected 2012 revenues of around 4.4 billion euros and adjusted EBITDA of around 1.5 billion.

A restructuring programme that aims to generate 40 million euros in extra free cash flow this year was on target, it said.

Telekom Austria said the approval process for the acquisition of Orange Austria assets as part of Hutchison 3G’s pending takeover of Orange Austria from France Telecom was on track.

“The acquisition of Orange Austria by Hutchison 3G Austria is conditional on the approval of Telekom Austria Group’s acquisition of YESSS! by the relevant regulatory and anti-trust authorities. The transaction is expected to be closed in mid-2012,” it said.

The results come ahead of a May 23 shareholders meeting at which investor Ronny Pecik and his ally Naguib Sawiris are seeking seats on an expanded supervisory board.

$1 = 0.7733 euros Reporting by Michael Shields

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