United News profit up 12%

LONDON — U.K. media and entertainment group United News & Media has posted a strong 12% rise in pretax profits before exceptionals, to £290 million ($464 million) for the year ending Dec. 31, 1996. Sales were up 5% to $3.18 billion.

The company’s broadcasting and entertainment interests performed particularly well, up 36% to $94.5 million on sales of $601.6 million, up 6%.

The results are the first released since United Newspapers merged with MAI — owner of the Meridian and Anglia ITV network stations and a stake in the new terrestrial Channel 5 — a year ago to form United News & Media.

United’s chief exec, Lord Hollick, said: “The review of businesses following the merger has been completed, with adjustments to the portfolio in some areas and changed operating strategies in others. Merger savings have helped boost margins from 14% to 15%.”

United also disclosed that TV production revenues were up 10% in 1996 and that that should increase 67% in 1997, largely due to the launch of Channel 5.

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