Major media group up 8.8% in first-half

MADRID — Bucking Spain’s downturn in advertising, first-half revenues at Prisa, Spain’s biggest media group, rose 8.8% year-on-year to e2 billion ($3.2 billion). Profits jumped 18.6% to $138.5 million, beating analysts’ forecasts.

Driving these results were emerging markets and upbeat results at Prisa’s terrestrial broadcasters, Spain’s Cuatro and Portugal’s TVI.

Ad revs at Prisa climbed 4.6% even as Spain’s total ad market slumped 6.5% between January and the end of June.

Ad revs at Cuatro rose 22.3%, as it pushed its market share up to 8.6% for the 2007-08 season and to 9.3% in the first half, aided by Euro 2008 soccer coverage.

TVI, Portugal’s top broadcaster, saw a daily average share of 39.8% in June.

However solid, the market will not pay too much attention to Prisa’s first half results.

Prisa has spent $3.1 billion buying out minority shareholders in Sogecable and forcing it to put Sogecable’s Digital Plus satellite pay TV business up for sale. Prisa debt now stands around $6.7 billion.

“The market’s really interested in the sale of Digital Plus and Prisa’s extension of its debt payment, whose size has punished its shares,” said an analyst.

Prisa struck a deal last week with London-based bank HSBC to extend repayment until March on a $3.1 billion bridging loan drawn by Prisa to allow it to up its stake in Sogecable to 100%. Debt extension is conditional on Prisa raising $796.6 million in new financing.

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