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BCE reports Q1 profit and operating revenue down from year ago



BCE Inc., a major player in Canada's telecom and media landscape, faced tough questions at its annual general meeting following its decision to slash 4,800 jobs earlier this year. The move, part of a broader restructuring effort, drew criticism from both investors and employees, especially given the company's announcement of a dividend increase amidst the layoffs.


During the meeting, board chair Gordon Nixon and Bell Canada's president and CEO Mirko Bibic defended the cuts, citing the need for transformation amid challenging times. Nixon acknowledged concerns about the disconnect between job cuts and profitability, stating that sustained earnings growth is crucial for the company's future prospects.


Bibic emphasized that the layoffs targeted positions across all levels of the company, including senior roles. He noted efforts to minimize the impact on existing staff and highlighted voluntary buyout options for unionized employees.


However, scrutiny extended to executive compensation, particularly Bibic's, whose total compensation rose to $12.4 million in 2023 despite the job cuts. Nixon defended the compensation decisions, asserting that they were made with careful consideration of market competitiveness and performance.


Earlier in the day, BCE reported a decline in first-quarter profit compared to the previous year, citing increased costs related to severance and restructuring. Operating revenue also dipped slightly, though the company added over 45,000 net postpaid mobile subscribers.


Analysts expressed cautious optimism about BCE's performance, noting that while the results slightly exceeded expectations, sustained organic growth is essential for long-term valuation.


Overall, BCE's Q1 results reflect the ongoing challenges and transformations in Canada's telecommunications industry, as companies navigate evolving consumer demands and competitive pressures.


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