INM says Indie sale nearly complete and reports results

Independent News & Media (INM), owner of The Independent, confirms that discussions to sell the newspaper are expected to complete “shortly.” The group has also seen a halving in pre-tax profit for last year.

The Independent
The Independent

The Irish company, which has print, radio and outdoor interests in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, saw pre-tax profit drop 54% to €114.4m (£102m) on revenue down 14.9% to €1,225.9m (£1,094m).

The group says that the revenue “reflects a comparatively resilient performance by the group in extremely poor advertising markets.”

The company is currently in negotiations to sell The Independent to Alexander Lebedev, owner of The Evening Standard. It says: “Discussions continue with Mr. Alexander Lebedev in relation to the proposed disposal of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday titles in the UK, with an announcement expected very shortly.”

The UK division reported revenue down 20.7% to €122.7m (£109.5m) “against a background of continuing challenging trading conditions and weak consumer sentiment.”

INM says that cost cutting programmes launched in 2008 and continued throughout 2009 “significantly offset” the sharp revenue decline and yielded cost savings of €44.4m (£39.6m) year-on-year. This resulted in an operating loss of €6.9m (£6.16m) for 2009, a decline of €5.8m (£5.17m) on 2008.

INM restructured its financing arrangements with bondholders and its banks in November last year after struggling to meet its repayment obligations in relation to maturity of its bonds.

Group CEO Gavin O’Reilly says that following the “successful conclusion” to complex financial debt refinancing the group was looking forward to building on “underlying profitability and real progress.”

He adds: “Both advertising and underlying profitability in each of our geographic regions stabilised in the second half of 2009 and that trend has continued into 2010, with certain markets showing year-on-year operating profit growth. While it is still very early in the year, if these current trends continue, we would target an improvement in operating profit for 2010.”

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