Mediaset 1H Profits Fall 30 Percent, But Ad Sales Showing Positive Signs

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Silvio Berlusconi

The company's results were released in the swirl of attention surrounding the Supreme Court ruling on the fate of its founder, Silvio Berlusconi.

ROME – Mediaset, the television and cinema giant controlled by Silvio Berlusconi, reported that net profits fell by nearly a third to €30.1 million ($39.4 million) over the first half of the year, though it said ad sales rose in July and it expected them to continue to rise in the near term.

Mediaset said ad sales were down over the first six months of the year, totaling €1.06 billion ($1.39 billion), compared to €1.29 billion ($1.69 billion) over the same period in 2012. But sales began rising compared to the year-ago period in June and saw a jump in July. The company said it expects sales to come in higher in August as well.

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Profits were lower than the €42.8 million ($56.1 million), but Mediaset said it expected its economic health to continue to improve going forward.

“We see the first important signs of greater dynamism strengthening expectations of a market stabilization in the second part of the year,” Mediset said in a statement.

The company also said its board approved a €500 million ($655 million) bond issue to be sold in tranches before the end of next year.

The company reported its results after the close of trading Thursday, but the news was nearly lost amid the news of Italy’s Supreme Court ruling in Berlusconi’s false accounting and tax evasion trial. The court upheld the charges -- related to Berlusconi’s Mediaset acquisition deals -- but asked the lower court to reconsider the ban from politics for Berlusconi, a three-time prime minister. Berlusconi will face one year of house arrest.

Mediaset shares rose in trading Thursday, ending the day at €3.37 ($4.41) in heavy trading, nearly triple their all-time low of €1.16 ($1.52) set in December.

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