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Cheaper deals pay off for space provider

Regus, the world's biggest provider of office space, reported a 25-percent rise in 2008 pretax profit, beating the consensus analyst forecast and sending its shares up by 20 percent yesterday.

Regus, benefiting from offering cheaper deals for customers, said pretax profit rose to 149.2 million pounds (US$213 million) from 119.4 million pounds the previous year.

Market expectations ranged between 139.8 and 150.1 million pounds, with the consensus at 145.8 million.

Regus, which offers ready-to-use offices for rental as short as half a day, was offering cheaper options for customers struggling with the economic downturn.

"Our newly introduced portfolio of recession busting products is attracting many new customers who are looking to reduce their office costs and gain flexibility in an increasingly challenging marketplace," said Chief Executive Officer Mark Dixon.

The company launched its "BusinessWorld" program in early 2008, which offers cardholders the chance to prepay in advance and be able to use any of its 950 centers worldwide. The scheme now has 200,000 members attracted by the opportunity to reduce their spending on office space. The total dividend payout for the year will rise 80 percent to 1.8 pence a share, the British company said.

The company also said it had increased its net cash position by 108 percent to 211.2 million pounds as operating profit and working capital inflow increased.


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