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Aeroflot?€™s 2009 Profit Triples, Misses Target

Aeroflot said Thursday that its 2009 net profit more than tripled but came in some way below a target set just two months ago, as full year revenue slumped 27 percent on lower passenger numbers.

The company said net profit for the 12 months to end December was $86 million, below the $100 million forecast by chief executive Vitaly Savelyev in April. The result was still a vast improvement on 2008.

Aeroflot closed up 1.9 percent at 61.50 on the MICEX on Thursday, having climbed nearly 6 percent in the two previous sessions.

Full year revenue fell 27 percent to $3.3 billion, as passenger numbers fell amid the global economic downturn.

Aeroflot also said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization fell 11 percent to $461 million, while group debt rose 34 percent to $1.7 billion.

Aeroflot is currently involved in long-running discussions over the future of a 25.8 percent stake owned by media tycoon and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev.

Lebedev agreed to sell the stake back to the airline for a discounted price of $400 million in January, but has since threatened to back out of the deal because of the holding’s improved value.

The airline may sell 6.3 percent of its own shares that it bought from Lebedev or use the stake to back convertible bonds within three years, deputy chief executive Shamil Kurmashov said Thursday.

Aeroflot declined an offer to buy UTair Aviation, a smaller Russian airline, Kurmashov said.

(Reuters, Bloomberg)

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