Israel’s Cellcom third-quarter profit shrinks, brings in fibre optics partner

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Israel’s largest mobile phone operator Cellcom <CEL.TA> <CEL.N>

posted a 97 percent drop in third quarter net profit on declining revenue and as it continues to invest in a fibre optics network and its TV service.

Cellcom reported on Thursday a quarterly net profit of 1 million shekels ($267,989), compared with a net profit of 32 million a year earlier, while revenue slipped 6.7 percent to 910 million shekels.

Analysts, on average, forecast profit of 8.3 million shekels on revenue of 933 million, according to a Reuters poll.

Cellcom in August agreed to buy 70 percent of the Israel Broadband Co (IBC), which has exclusive rights to deploy fibre optics over state-owned Israel Electric Corp’s infrastructure.

The company said on Thursday it reached a preliminary agreement for the Israel Infrastructure Fund, the country’s largest such fund, to co-invest in IBC.

Israel’s mobile phone industry was shaken up in 2012 with the entry of a host of new operators, sparking a price war that led to steep drops in subscribers, revenue and profit for Cellcom and rival incumbents Partner Communications <PTNR.TA>, <PTNR.O> and Pelephone, a unit of Bezeq <BEZQ.TA>.

Cellcom launched a lower-cost internet-based TV service in 2015 that it says had 206,000 subscribers at the end of the third quarter, up 33.8 percent from a year earlier. It also has 259,000 customers for its internet services, a 25.7 percent rise from a year ago.

Cellcom’s mobile subscriber base gained 0.7 percent from a year ago to 2.825 million in the quarter.

($1 = 3.7315 shekels)

TEL AVIV (Reuters)

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