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Southern Star posts $7.8 million profit

SYDNEY — Posting its first full-year financial results as a publicly listed company, Aussie film and TV producer-distrib Southern Star on Wednesday unveiled a 7.3% jump to A$10.2 million ($7.8 million) in post-tax profits on revenues of $73.6 million for the year to March 31.

The results, which were 7% above its prospectus forecasts, were fueled by better-than-expected film and TV distribution sales and a strong perf from the group’s Duplitek CD, DVD and tape manufacturing division, according to exec chairman Neil Balnaves, while revenue from the 241 hours of TV production was steady.

Highlights included strong sales for Samantha Lang’s “The Well,” which was Oz’s only feature in competish at Cannes this year, and selling 688 hours of programming into Latin America, he said.

Follows Circle takeover

The results come just a fortnight after the group announced a $15.5 million friendly takeover of U.K. entertainment entity Circle Communications, which includes theater, film and TV production concerns and a co-venture with top crime writer Lynda LaPlante. The merger will add about 1,000 hours of drama and wildlife fare to Southern Star’s 2,350 library hours.

The acquisition will put the now debt-free Oz group temporarily into debt to the tune of about $6.1 million, which Balnaves expects to repay within the year.

“We are certainly equipped to make further acquisitions,” Balnaves told Daily Variety. “We expect after the first year of the merged business to be debt-free and would expect to make further acquisitions to add to the value of our business. Our production has doubled every three years and we can’t continue to grow at this rate much longer in Australia.”

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