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Finland media group ups its profits

Net sales for the broadcast arm climbed to $251 mil

AMSTERDAM — Strong advertising growth in Finland doubled net profit from $14 million to $28 million for Alma Media, Finland’s second-largest media group, as well as the operating profits of its broadcast arm.

That broadcast unit will become the property of Sweden’s Bonnier Group and equity finance outfit Proventus in a joint venture to be launched in April.

Net sales for Alma were S464.6 million ($597 million), up a sliver from $593 million in 2003. Operating profit for the group soared from $23 million to $50 million.

Alma chief financial officer Teemu Kangas-Karki said the 6.1% rise in Finnish media advertising had pumped the bottom-line profits.

Net sales for the broadcast arm, which includes Finland’s largest commercial channel MTV3, offshoot Sub TV and Radio Nova, climbed from $229 million to $251 million year on year, while its operating profit shot up from $8 million to $14 million.

The report was good news for the Bonnier Group. Its Swedish broadcast investment TV4 posted flat net sales of $326 million in 2004, and a net profit of $4 million, down from $11 million a year earlier.

Bonnier spokesman Erik Mansson credited loss of ad market share and increased programming costs to the drop, but he added that much of the decline was also due to exceptional spikes last year related to license fees.

Mansson said advertising revenue began to pick up in the fourth quarter of 2004 and Bonnier expected a better performance this year.

TV4 is the largest commercial channel in the Nordic territories. It is bidding for the license of soon-to-be-privatized TV2 Danmark.

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