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Cabler still strong

MTG to continue expansion

AMSTERDAM — Northern European media outfit Modern Times Group (MTG) will continue its expansion, despite somewhat testing times, its prexy-CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht said Oct. 24 during a video conference.

“We want to make it clear. Our cash position is strong and we will continue to expand,” Albrecht said in delivering the company’s 3Q and nine-month earnings report.

Financial analysts gave the the report top grades, despite a bottom line dip in the company’s profit picture.

“Considering the climate we have today of a weakened ad market and currency fluctuations, MTG has outperformed both in the advertising market as well as the pay TV market.

“Sharewise, it is one of the best peforming media companies in Europe over the last month,” said Henrik Persson, an equity analyst with HKSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation), one of the world’s largest banks.

MTG has a chain of over a dozen TV stations and a raft of pay TV channels stretched across the Nordic and Baltic states, and more recently in Hungary and Russia. The company also has a gaggle of film and TV production, acquisition and distribution divisions, as well as the world’s largest subtitling and dubbing company SDI.

MTG posted a 21% rise in revs in the first nine months of 2001, to 4.5 billion Swedish kroner ($428 million), up from $355 million a year ago. While net profit skidded to $752,000 from $2.92 million a year ago, operating income from established operations for the first nine months jumped 269% from $7.6 million a year ago to $27.7 million.

Excluding non recurring items, total operating income jumped from $4.42 million to $14.1 million.

Albrecht delivered the relatively positive earnings report just a year after he had stepped up to the plate to become the new CEO of MTG. Despite its independence from former owner Swedish industrial giant Kinnevik, 24% of its capital and 72% of MTG’s voting rights are controlled by Kinnevik chairman Jan Stenbeck.

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