BT's CEO Says She "loves Squeezing Short Sellers" as She Announces £3bn of Cost Cuts - Latest Global News

BT’s CEO Says She “loves Squeezing Short Sellers” as She Announces £3bn of Cost Cuts

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BT’s new chief executive Allison Kirkby said: “I always love pushing the shorts.” . and prove them wrong,” as she outlined her plans to turn around the British telecoms group, sending shares up nearly 13 percent.

Kirkby made the comments after the Financial Times revealed earlier this week that investors had placed a record £300 million bet against the FTSE 100 company. She announced on Thursday that BT would cut costs by a further £3 billion and increase its dividend, adding that the fact that a new chief executive had not yet unveiled a strategy had encouraged short selling.

“I hope that we have now put in place a very transparent, multi-year and confident plan that some of these shorts will diminish,” Kirkby told the FT.

Kirkby, who took over BT in February, said the group had hit an initial target of $3 billion a year ahead of schedule.

BT shares rose over 13 per cent to 127.9p in morning trade on Thursday.

The company’s reported operating costs were £18.6 billion in the year to March 31. Kirkby told journalists that the additional cost savings program will focus on further shutting down existing networks and migrating customers to next-generation networks, simplifying products, platforms, processes and leveraging new digital and artificial intelligence platforms.

She said there would be no change to the previously announced target of cutting up to 42 percent of the group’s workforce by the end of the decade.

The comments came as the telecoms group reported results for the year to March. BT has declared a final dividend of 5.69p per share, taking the full year dividend to 8p, up from 7.7p last year.

Kirkby said BT had “reached the tipping point of our long-term strategy”. She added that it would focus on the UK and “explore options to optimize our global business”, including exiting some markets. The group offers products and services in around 180 countries.

Kirkby added that BT had reached peak capital expenditure on the nationwide rollout of fiber broadband, which had helped the company improve its cash flow forecast.

The group expects to achieve normalized free cash flow of around £1.5 billion in the 2025 financial year, up from £1.3 billion in the year just ended, and around £3 billion by the end of the decade. For the current year, adjusted sales growth is expected to be between zero and 1 percent and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization are expected to be £8.2 billion, up from £8.1 billion in the year just ended.

Karen Egan, head of telecommunications at Enders Analysis, said the decision to increase the dividend and clearly define cash flow expectations helped “increase confidence” in the cash flow recovery and “calm the doubters.”

However, BT warned that after losing 491,000 customers for the full year, it would face further broadband losses to competitors if the market remained weak.

The group’s business, created from the merger of its global and corporate units in 2022, recorded a decline in adjusted annual revenue and Ebitda. The company has taken a £488m goodwill impairment charge, “reflecting a decline in profitability in recent years”.

This contributed to the group’s pre-tax profit falling 31 percent to £1.2 billion.

BT also announced a postponement of the shutdown of its public telephone network, an industry-led initiative to move to a digital phone system, from the end of 2025 to the end of January 2027, following a pause in non-voluntary migrations across the industry.

Last month the FT revealed that two Virgin Media O2 customers had died due to the failure of their Telecare devices following the upgrade process, leading to a government announcement in December that it had secured industry commitments to protect vulnerable customers .

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