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Telia first-quarter core profit just lags forecast as TV unit weighs

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish telecom operator Telia Company reported quarterly core earnings below market forecasts on Wednesday as weakness in its TV & Media unit hit results, but said it had seen limited impact on its other businesses so far from the COVID-19 crisis.

The company, which had said in March it no longer expected to reach its 2020 earnings and cashflow forecast due to the TV & Media business being hit due to the pandemic, cited lower advertising revenues and lack of sports broadcasting as key negatives.

First-quarter adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) was 7.28 billion crowns ($720 million), down from 7.41 billion crowns a year earlier and just below the 7.51 billion mean analyst forecast in a Refinitiv poll.

Telia said it expected to generate an operational free cashflow of 9.5-10.5 billion crowns for the year, down from the previous forecast of 10.5-11.5 billion.

"We have identified several mitigating activities that will partially compensate for the decline within our TV & Media unit, but that will also support the traditional telco operation should they also be impacted," Acting CEO Christian Luiga said in a statement.

Telia's TV & Media unit was created after it closed the 9.2 billion crowns purchase of Bonnier Broadcasting, parent of Sweden's biggest commercial channel TV4, late last year

Luiga said future potential risk areas for Telia's business included roaming, TV distribution revenues, delayed commercial activities and potential supply chain disruptions.

(Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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