Quebecor Posts Higher Earnings as Leader Jumps Into Politics

Controlling shareholder Pierre Karl Peladeau last week stepped down from the Quebec media giant to run for political office as a separatist candidate.

TORONTO -- Quebec media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau picked a good time to leave the Canadian cable business to enter Quebec politics as a separatist candidate.

Quebecor, the Quebec cable, broadcast and telco giant in which Peladeau has a controlling stake, on Thursday beat street estimates and posted higher fourth-quarter earnings, with overall revenues edging up only slightly.

The surprise profit gain follows Peladeau last week stepping down from Quebecor to enter provincial politics and run as a candidate in the Saint Jerome riding for the separatist Parti Quebecois.

If elected, Peladeau could be compelled to sell his stake in Quebecor, Quebec's largest cable carrier, or place it in a blind trust.

To replace him at Quebecor, Sylvie Lalande was named chairperson of the board at TVA Group, while Francoise Bertrand, a former CRTC chairperson, was appointed the same title at Quebecor Media.

Robert Depatie, who replaced Peladeau as president and CEO of Quebecor and Quebecor Media in May 2013, becomes a director of Quebecor, Quebecor Media and TVA Group.

Meanwhile, Quebecor on Thursday reported adjusted earnings from continuing operations at CAN$68 million (US$61.5 million), against earnings of CAN$52.3 million (US$47.2 million) in 2012, on total revenue rising 0.5 percent to CAN$1.12 billion (US$1 billion).

On the broadcast side, where Quebecor operates the TVA network in Quebec, the adjusted operating income jumped by 35.9 percent in full-year 2013 to CAN$45.4 million (US$41 million), due in part to the favorable impact of amended distant signal retransmission royalties, a reduced adjusted operating loss at the Sun News General Partnership, and cost savings at TVA.