PARIS: French fixed-line and wireless group France Telecom bettered analysts' expectations with a rise in half-year profits helped by solid cellphone sales in emerging markets.

The former telecoms monopoly, which also operates in the UK, Poland, Spain and Africa, said sales rose 2% to €25.9bn ($35.4bn; £14.7bn) in the first six months of 2007, compared with the year-ago period.

Net profit rose 41% €3.3bn. Gross operating profit before EBITDA increased 2% to €9.41bn.

Despite the migration of domestic customers from the company's fixed line services, those who remain are boosting revenues by spending more on broadband, web television and video-on-demand.

Finance director Gervais Pellissier was confident about future prospects: "We do not expect a drop in sales in the second half (compared with the first half) as happened last year."

The company is currently in the process of selling its Orange Netherlands business to German giant Deutsche Telekom, a deal expected to raise around €1.3bn.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff