Fininvest posts profit decline

MILAN — Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest, which controls TV outfit Mediaset and film unit Medusa, said net profits in 1996 slipped to 397.9 billion lire ($234 million) from $250 million a year earlier.

In a statement Tuesday, Fininvest said much of the decline was due to fewer extraordinary items, which were $822 million in 1996 against $1.03 billion a year earlier. Extraordinary items in 1996 included revenue from the sale of a 49% stake in Mediaset and another stake in its insurance company, Mediolanum.

Fininvest did manage to get out of the red in 1996, showing a positive balance sheet of $126 million, compared with a net debt of $1.4 billion at the end of 1995.

Fininvest revenue was $5.91 billion for the year, virtually unchanged from 1995.

Fininvest’s Mediaset, listed on the Milan stock exchange in 1996, posted a $490 million profit before taxes, a 44.5% increase from a year earlier. Revenue was $1.85 billion (up 6.1%). Net profit marginally decreased to $261 million.

Medusa, which started operations in 1996, distributed 40 pictures last year, accounting for an 11% share of Italy’s film market. No further financial details were unveiled.

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