"New age" business drives record Telstra profit

The strong growth of new technologies has boosted the half-year profits of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra to a new record.

The strong growth of new technologies has boosted the half-year profits of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra to a new record.

For the six months to December 31 last year, Telstra made an after-tax profit of $A2.1 billion -- a 15.6% increase on the same period last year.

While the result was boosted by some one-off items, the revenue growth was driven largely by the company's "new age businesses", chiefly mobiles, data, text and the internet, the company said. For the first time, revenue from such nontraditional businesses reached 50% of total revenue.

The company has declared an increased interim dividend of eight cents a share, which will only be partially franked.

Although the result was a new half-year record, the market reaction was less than impressive. In afternoon trading yesterday, Telstra's share price was down approximately 30 cents on this morning's opening price of $A8.50.

Hoping to boost that profit even more over the next six months, Telstra announced yesterday that it plans to merge its Business Solutions and Convergent Business (CB) units.

The current CB group managing director, Ted Pretty, will head the new unit which Telstra said would "improve product commercialisation, reduce cycle times and redundant effort, and help order priorities" to better meet consumers' needs.

It has been estimated that the company will axe between 10% and 20% of its 52,000 employees as part of the rationalisation.

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