Swiss Highlight beats forecast

Media Group books near-record profits of $27.6 mil

COLOGNE, Germany -- Swiss media group Highlight Communications beat its forecasts for 2008, booking near-record net profits of 32.5 million Swiss francs ($27.6 million) and boosting revenue 7.6% to 518.4 million Swiss francs ($441 million).

The strong performance came despite the gloomy overall economic climate and some $9 million in write-downs, the bulk of which were related to Highlight's 7.6% stake in German rights group EM.Sport Media.

Highlight also announced details of its squeeze-out offer to minority shareholders in German indie producer/distributor Constantin Film.

Under the offer, Highlight, which already controls 97.8% of Constantin, will pay 17.64 euros ($15) a share for outstanding shares in the company. Constantin stock was down almost 6% Tuesday, standing at about 18 euros ($15.3) by late afternoon. Highlight shares were up more than 2% at 4.09 euros ($3.5).

The squeeze-out is a final step in the three-way marriage between Highlight, Constantin Film and EM. EM controls 47.3% of Highlight and, to make the merger official, recently renamed itself Constantin Medien.