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Israel's Partner Comms Q3 profit less than expected

JERUSALEM Nov 23 Partner Communications , Israel's second-largest mobile phone company, moved to a net profit in the third quarter but it was less than expected amid fierce competition in the sector.

Partner said on Wednesday it earned quarterly net profit of 19 million shekels ($4.9 million), up from a loss of 9 million shekels a year earlier but below a forecast of 24 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Revenue dropped 16 percent to 849 million shekels, below a forecast of 906 million.

"During the third quarter of 2016, the erosion of cellular services revenues continued due to the ongoing strong competition, at a rate similar to that of the previous quarter," said Ziv Leitman, Partner's chief financial officer.

Partner and chief rivals Cellcom and Pelephone continue to suffer from an industry shake-up in 2012 that brought in new, low-cost competitors and led to a plunge in revenue and profit.

Over the past year, Partner's subscriber base fell by 46,000 to 2.693 million.

It noted that a project to unify its low-cost brand, 012 Smile, under the Partner brand will be completed in 2017. ($1 = 3.8600 shekels) (Reporting by Steven Scheer, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)

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