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Bpost posts lower 2023 operating profit, does not provide 2024 profit outlook

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Belgium's national postal deliverer bpost is pictured outside the company's headquarters in Brussels

By Lina Golovnya

(Reuters) - Belgian postal operator Bpost, which also distributes newspapers, reported a decline in full-year operating profit on Friday, and did not provide an outlook for 2024, citing "discussions with press stakeholders".

The group's shares fell as much as 5.2% and then reversed course, rising around 1.3% in early trading.

The group, which delivers mail and parcels and provides e-commerce logistics, reported adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of 248.5 million euros ($268.63 million) for 2023, down 10.8% from a year earlier.

Bpost has been under pressure due to speculation that the Belgian government could choose other companies for the distribution of newspapers and periodicals in the country.

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The group has important challenges in finalising agreements with government services for last year's compliance audits, and securing a positive future for press distribution in Belgium with local editors, CEO Chris Peeters said in a statement.

"A major transformation is necessary ... that is our priority in the next months and years," he added.

Last November, the company said it had not decided on its concession on newspaper distribution, although a month later, the Belgian government extended two press concessions, allowing Bpost to continue distributing daily newspapers.

Bpost said it would propose a dividend of 0.13 euro per share for 2023, down from a payout of 0.40 euro for 2022.

Degroof Petercam analysts said they were "underwhelmed" by the dividend proposal.

Bpost said it expected total operating income in 2024 to remain stable compared to 2023.

It reported total operating income of 4.27 billion euros for 2023, slightly below analysts' expectations of 4.30 billion euros in a company-compiled consensus.

($1 = 0.9251 euros)

(Reporting by Lina Golovnya, Editing by Himani Sarkar, Varun H K and Alison Williams)