Bell Canada parent company BCE Inc. has reported a 46 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit to $377 million, and also announ­ced Thursday it is buying the half-interest it does not already own in Virgin Mobile Canada.

Canada’s largest tele­communications company said it is paying $142 million in cash for Virgin, which has been running since 2004 on the Bell Mobility network.

Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson said U.K.-based Virgin will continue efforts to build its brand in Canada with entertainment businesses such as Virgin rock festivals and Virgin Radio.

BCE also announced an agreement with Telus under which Telus will distribute Bell satellite TV service in Alberta and British Columbia under the Telus brand.

BCE said its profit improvement was driven in part by a 25 per cent increase in postpaid wireless activations to 35,000.

Total net activations were 30,000, as Bell lost 5,000 prepaid clients.