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Capital resources

During the 2003 and 2002 financial years the group has reduced its level of borrowings so that its net debt was £9.6 billion at 31 March 2003 compared with £13.7 billion at 31 March 2002 and £27.9 billion at 31 March 2001. The debt reduction in the 2003 and 2002 financial years was achieved by the disposal of our stake in Cegetel, a successful rights issue in June 2001, the mmO2 demerger, sales of investments and the Yell business and the property sale and leaseback transaction.

The directors have a reasonable expectation that the group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future and therefore they continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing the financial statements.

There has been no significant change in the financial or trading position of the group since 31 March 2003.

At 31 March 2003, the group had cash and short-term investments of £6,431 million. At that date, £2,548 million of debt falls due for repayment in the 2004 financial year. The group had unused short-term bank facilities, amounting to approximately £575 million at 31 March 2003.

At 31 March 2002, the group had cash and short-term investments of £4,739 million. In addition, the group had unused committed short-term bank facilities, amounting to approximately £2,100 million at 31 March 2002, in support of a commercial paper programme or other borrowings. The group also had £461 million of uncommitted short-term bank facilities.

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