UPDATE 1-Iliad eyes fixed launch and profit in Italy this year

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March 16 (Reuters) - France’s Iliad said on Tuesday by this summer it plans to launch its fixed business in Italy where it expects to post a profit in the second half of the year, helping send shares in the telecoms operator up more than 5%.

Iliad, which launched its low-price mobile offer in Italy in 2018, added nearly 2 million mobile subscribers over the year, boosting revenue there by 58% to 674 million euros ($803 million) while narrowing its operating loss in Italy to 133 million euros.

CEO Thomas Reynaud told journalists on a conference call that Iliad would now focus on expanding its Italian subscriber base, finalising its network rollout and becoming a fixed-mobile operator.

Iliad has been expanding outside its home market in recent years, notably in Poland where it acquired top mobile operator Play for 3.5 billion euros late last year.

In Poland, Iliad reported revenue of 200 million euros over the consolidation period, with core earnings of 70 million. The group aims to grow its operating cash flow there this year .

In France, Iliad added some 63,000 net mobile subscribers, despite a drop in the fourth quarter as customers disconnected from a 2-euro plan adapted for the pandemic.

The group counted 13.4 million mobile subscribers in its home market at the end of the year, including 8.6 million on an unlimited 4G/5G plan it launched in December at no extra cost to subscribers.

Local competitors Orange, Bouygues Telecom and Altice-SFR had launched commercial 5G services towards the end of last year, after the four bid for chunks of the country’s spectrum in October.

Overall, the group reported an 18.4% rise in consolidated core profit to 1.96 billion euros on revenue up 10.1% at 5.87 billion with growth across its businesses. Its shares were up 5.6% by 0839 GMT.

$1 = 0.8391 euros Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk; editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jason Neely