'Ground-breaking year' says BT boss
BT boss Gavin Patterson hailed a "ground-breaking year" as the telecoms giant posted a better-than-expected annual profits haul of £3.17 billion today.
The 12% increase in adjusted pre-tax profits for the year comes after the group recently secured another three years of Premier League football rights and announced the £12.5 billion takeover of mobile phone operator EE.
BT's consumer division, which has been buoyed by the offer of top-flight football to broadband customers, grew operating profits by 32% to £614 million for the year to the end of March, with revenues up 7% to £4.02 billion.
Chief executive Mr Patterson said: "It's been a ground-breaking year for BT, in which we've made some key decisions and announced some major investments to underpin the future growth of the business.
"We have delivered or beaten the outlook we set at the start of the year."
However, the group said that good growth in the consumer division "was offset by declines in our other lines of business", with BT Business hit by lower call and line volumes as customers opted to use internet services instead.
Its wholesale Openreach division saw revenues fall partly due to regulatory price changes while its BT Global Services division was weighed down by a fall in UK public sector revenue.
In the consumer arm, BT said that in the first three months of 2015 it added 121,000 retail broadband customers. It said it had now outpaced rivals Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin for seven quarters in a row on the key industry measure.
The group had its best quarter for superfast fibre broadband growth, with 266,000 net additions of retail customers.
Openreach added 455,000 new fibre customers via all communications providers in the three-month period, up 31% on last year.
Mr Patterson said the network now passes more than three-quarters of the UK. BT said earlier this year that it was also planning to upgrade the superfast network to "ultrafast" speeds six times faster than those currently available.
The chief executive said BT Sport TV channels were now in more than 5.2 million homes "with the customer base growing again in the quarter".
BT will show Champions League football from this autumn after snapping up the rights for £897 million. It recently agreed to pay £960 million to show 42 Premier League games a season for three years from 2016/17, up from 38 games currently.
Shareholders last week approved the takeover of EE and the deal now awaits approval from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Meanwhile, BT moved back in to the consumer mobile market in March, announcing sim-only deals for existing broadband customers.