Joint venture deal slows PBL in first half

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Australian media and gaming company Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. reported a 5.7% drop in normalized profit to AUS$576 million ($460 million), dragged down by the contribution of its traditional media businesses into a joint venture with private-equity group CVC Asia Pacific.

However, the company said Wednesday that its profit was AUS$1.9 billion ($1.5 billion) when including a AUS$1.4 billion ($1 billion) gain from the sale of half its media assets.

With the Nine Network losing ratings to rival Seven Network, PBL's TV earnings for the year were AUS$206 million ($165 million), down 4%. TV revenue dropped 12.4% to AUS$762 million ($610 million).

Nine's share of the TV ad market in Australia dropped to 32.7% for the first half.

PBL reported results for the Nine Network and ACP magazines to June 5, when it gave up majority control of PBL Media.

Better performing were PBL's pay TV investments. Its 25% stake in Australia's largest pay TV firm, Foxtel, added AUS$17 million ($13.6 million) to its bottom line. Foxtel reported a full-year pretax profit of AUS$76 million ($61 million) on a 12% increase in revenue to AUS$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion).

PBL's 50% stake in Premier Media Group, operator of the Fox Sports channels, gave PBL a profit of AUS$46 million ($37 million) on revenue of AUS$300 million ($240 million).

PBL wrote down its investment in film exhibition and distribution business Hoyts to AUS$143 million ($114 million), while booking a $19.5 million ($15.6 million) profit.

PBL owns Hoyts with Western Australia Newspapers, and the partners are looking for a buyer. PBL also is selling its stakes in Global Television and U.S. film producer New Regency.
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