January 20, 2018 / 3:20 PM / 10 months ago

Deutsche Telekom expects steady dividend hikes: paper

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) will keep to its promise of hiking dividends in 2018 and the years thereafter, its Chief Financial Officer Thomas Dannenfeldt told German daily Boersen-Zeitung.

Deutsche Telekom logo is seen during preparations at the CeBit computer fair, which will open its doors to the public on March 20, at the fairground in Hanover, Germany, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

“I am very confident that we will be able to stick to our promises, in particular with respect to the planned increase of our free cash flow by about 10 percent and the according dividend policy”, he was quoted as saying on Saturday.

“I see no reason to deviate from (our planning) in 2018”, he said, adding that investors should expect continuous growth of capital expenditure, sales, earnings and dividends.

Deutsche Telekom has said in the past that it expects a 12 percent increase in 2017 free cash flow - the money available for dividend payments - with a corresponding dividend hike.

While Germany’s largest telecoms provider is benefiting from a strong U.S. business and a rebound of its European operations it will also get a boost from U.S. tax cuts.

“Our earnings after minorities will rise by a relevant three-digit million euro amount annually”, Dannenfeldt said.

The company scrapped plans to merge T-Mobile U.S. (TMUS.O) with Sprint (S.N) in November, but Deutsche Telekom was “not dogmatic about the subject”, he added.

“If someone were to come now and offered, say, $120 a share, all cash, then we would have to think about it,” he said.

T-Mobile’s shares closed at $63.71 on Friday, compared to an all-time high of $68.40 reached in May.

With respect to its operations in the Netherlands, where Deutsche Telekom acquired a business from Sweden’s Tele2 (TEL2b.ST) in December, a stock market flotation of the combined business is possible, Dannenfeldt told the paper.

“But first, we need a nod for our deal from Brussels (...) Then we need to integrate the business, and that will take 1-1.5 years.”

Separately, on its struggling T-Systems business, Dannenfeldt said a partial sale of the German IT services and consulting unit could not be ruled out.

Last week, Deutsche Telekom announced plans to split T-Sytems into two separate units in a bid to halt a slide in earnings.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze; editing by Alexander Smith

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