Omnitel Board of Directors Approves 1996 Financial Results

Milan, Italy - Omnitel Pronto Italia's Board of Directors unanimously approved the company's 1996 financial results during a meeting held in Milan late last week. Omnitel is Bell Atlantic's Italian wireless investment.

Omnitel's results showed that in its first year of business it was the fastest cellular start-up in the world in terms of customer growth and speed of network deployment. On December 31, 1996, Omnitel had 713,000 customers and generated 497 billion lira from the sales of products and services. The company gained a 28 percent share of new cellular subscribers and a 33 percent share of all GSM (Global System for Mobile) customers.

The company's results are in line with the economic and financial forecasts included in its business plan. Last year's investments, mostly in network capital, amounted to 729 billion lira, bringing total investments to 2,511 billion lira including the 750 billion lira paid for its GSM license. More than 1,500 radio base stations were installed by the end of the year, providing coverage to 60 percent of the Italian territory and 86 percent of the population.

In accordance with the original business plan approved three years ago, Omnitel closed its 1996 fiscal year with a loss. After taxes, the company posted a 589 billion lira loss.

Both the number of full subscriptions and its sales of the new "Libero Ricaricabile" (a sophisticated rechargeable GSM usage card) exceeded expectations, and the total number of subscribers is expected to soon reach one million.

"Omnitel has proven to be a unique company not only for the speed with which it grew, but also for its ability to meet its commitments to shareholders," said Carlo Peretti, president of Omnitel Pronto Italia. "Today, Omnitel is a leading company and a major player in the Italian telecommunication market, a role confirmed by its growing number of subscribers, the high quality of its service, and the interest shown by current shareholders in acquiring additional shares in the company."