Packer op’s profits soar in first half

PBL triples earnings after revaluation

SYDNEY — Kerry Packer’s Publishing & Broadcasting almost tripled its post-tax profits for the six months ended Dec. 31, 1997, after doubling the book value of its terrestrial TV holdings, while writing off most of its pay TV investments.

PBL’s post-tax profits jumped 284% to A$400.7 million ($268.5 million), after revaluating its free-to-air licenses to $871,000 million. Before PBL’s abnormals, post-tax profit hiked 12.1% to $78.3 million.

The revaluation is the first since 1990, when PBL reacquired the then somewhat depleted Nine Network back from the high-flying Alan Bond, who is now in jail. Nine’s new value is still seen as conservative for Oz’s top-rated web, given that the low-rated CanWest-backed Network Ten is valued at about $737 million.

About $102 million was written off Packer’s feevee and Asian holdings, including $39 million in EasyCall Asia, $5.6 million in the Vietnam Investment Review, $25.5 million in crippled satcaster Australis Media’s Galaxy TV, $15 million of PBL’s $45 million stake in cabler Optus and PBL’s entire $12 million interest in the SportsVision and Sky News pay channels.

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