Israel's Partner Communications swings to Q3 profit

The logo of Partner, an Israeli communication firm, is seen on their headquarters in Rosh Ha'ayin near Tel Aviv, Israel June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

JERUSALEM, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Israeli telecoms group Partner Communications (PTNR.TA) swung to a net profit in the third quarter, boosted by higher revenue from mobile, internet and roaming services.

Partner , Israel's second-largest mobile operator, said it earned 24 million shekels ($7.6 million) in the July-September period, compared with a 5 million shekel loss a year earlier.

Revenue rose 5% to 837 million shekels, helped by subscriber growth in its fibre optics network, TV and mobile offerings, as well as demand for its cellular roaming services from tourism after Israel in June began to allow small groups of foreign tourists.

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Its mobile subscriber base topped 3 million for the first time since 2012, rising 9% to 3.02 million.

Chief financial officer Tamir Amar noted a moderate recovery in roaming services since Israel earlier this month started letting in vaccinated tourists. "However, a retreat is possible in the future in view of possible implications of coronavirus variants for air travel," he said.

Israel banned the entry of foreigners for two weeks from Monday in response to the Omicron variant. read more

The company's shares were 1.4% higher by midday in Tel Avi.

Partner said its fibre-optic network was connected to 660,000 homes and had more than 200,000 subscribers. Amar said by the end of 2022, its network would reach 1 million households.

To that end, Partner said the completion of a major rollout phase of its fibre infrastructure would be brought forward to the end of 2022 from during 2023.

Rival Cellcom (CEL.TA), Israel's largest mobile phone operator, also swung to a profit in the quarter. read more

Partner could soon have a new owner as a group of investors led by Avi Gabay, who last week stepped down as CEO from rival Cellcom (CEL.TA), and former Bezeq Israel Telecom (BEZQ.TA) chairman Shlomo Rodav signed a deal to acquire a controlling stake in Partner from Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison (0215.HK). Hutchison's shares of its 27.1% stake are in the hands of a court appointed trustee.

($1 = 3.1625 shekels)

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Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan

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