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Scandinavian upturn

B'caster's revenue rises after reshuffle

AMSTERDAM — Scandinavian Broadcasting System (SBS) moved to calm investor frustration with the addition of new investors and a restructuring of the group’s management, amid a first-quarter earnings report showing slight improvement in the company’s four-year record of losses.

The group, which is 23%-owned by the Walt Disney Co. and has a stable of TV channels in Scandinavia, the Benelux and Slovenia, announced Monday a jump of 17% in net revenue to $47.7 million in its first quarter, up from $40.7 million a year earlier.

The first-quarter report also shows the company chipping away at net losses, which fell from $18.9 million in the first three months of 1996 to $15 million in the same time period this year.

The restructure includes the appointment of Michael Finkelstein, former chairman and CEO of Renaissance Communications, to the SBS board of directors; he was also named co-chairman of the board’s executive committee. Edward Karlik, former president and chief operating officer of Renaissance, was also appointed assistant to SBS chairman and CEO Harry Evans Sloan.

Sloan told Daily Variety that Finkelstein and Karlik had a “track record of creating value for shareholders and for themselves.” Karlik, he added, “will be reviewing all SBS operations and advising me on a daily basis with a goal toward bolstering the company’s bottom line.”

The highly profitable Renaissance Communications was sold to Tribune Broadcasting for $1.13 billion earlier this year. Finkelstein and a group of investors he leads have during the past few weeks bought up 750,000 shares of SBS, making them one of the five largest shareholders in the company.

The restructuring includes the appointment of Ronald Doerfler, chief financial officer of ABC, to serve also as co-chairman of the group’s executive committee. ABC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney, the group’s largest shareholder. Doerfler was already a member of the company’s board of directors.

SBS’ share price had nosedived from a 52-week high of $26 to as low as $13.63 in February, when the group announced net losses of $67.5 million in 1996. SBS stock closed on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange at $15.25 on Friday, but trading was up $2.75 to $18 following the announcement of the SBS management reshuffle.

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