Euro biz drives up SBS revs

Netherlands' Net 5 brings in biggest gains

AMSTERDAM — Revenues from pan-European broadcaster SBS Broadcasting shot up by 18% in 1999 over figures a year earlier, the result mainly of an increase in revs in its continental European TV operations and particularly its Dutch ops.

The company’s revs jumped from $350.5 million in 1998 to $412.6 million in 1999, in what became a year of major wheeling and dealing for the Euro broadcaster. The launch of Net 5, its second channel in the Netherlands, was the biggest contributor to the company’s revenue gains.

Station operating cash flow (earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization) rose from $19.1 million to $34.7 million year on year, but with numbers squeezed by expenses of the aborted merger with Central European Media Enterprises (CME), the company hiked its net losses to $42.8 million, an increase of $9.1 million over 1998. Included in the operating and net loss figures were some $9.8 million in expenses related to the merger bid.

Decreasing loss

SBS has never posted an annual profit in its 10-year history, but its net losses in the fourth quarter 1999 fell from $3.4 million to $2.1 million, the lowest loss SBS has ever posted.

In addition to its broadcast ventures, SBS dived headfirst into new-media waters in 1999, linking up in a number of strategic alliances.In 1999, the company’s share price nearly doubled, from a low $25 per share on Jan. 25, 1999 to a high of $49.69 per share on Dec. 31, 1999. Share price closed at $57 on Nasdaq Wednesday.

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