Cellnet fails to pay dividend to Securicor

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The Independent Online
Cellnet, the UK's second-largest mobile phone group, has not paid a dividend this year to its 40 per cent shareholder, Securicor, the company told analysts yesterday. The security to communications group said its share of profits from Cellnet in the year to September rose from pounds 76.6m to pounds 79m, but admitted the mobile operator was facing a drain on resources from moving customers using its older analogue service to the digital network.

Chris Shirtcliffe, Securicor's finance director, said Cellnet had spent pounds 150m on acquisitions during the year which meant it was "not prudent" to pay a dividend. Securicor's headline pre-tax profits slumped by 70 per cent to pounds 31.4m, after pounds 70m of write-offs to cover problems with Cellnet's billing system and losses on the sale of its cellular services business. Securicor also dampened speculation that BT, which owns 60 per cent of Cellnet, would buy out its partner.

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