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RTL shares fall on mixed result, warnings

Shares plummet 27.5% in London

LONDON — RTL Group has posted mixed results for the year, with pre-tax profits more than halved to 293 million euros ($263.7 million) on the back of one-off disposals.

That, and the pan-European broadcaster’s prediction that it anticipated flat results for 2001, contributed to a 27.5% drop in the group’s share price in London, albeit on a very low volume of trading. In Brussels, where the bulk of trading occurred, shares were down only 0.9%.

Sales to Dec. 31, 2000, were up 14.3% to $3.64 billion. Television sales were $2.58 billion, up 19%.

RTL’s TV assets include the RTL network — the biggest commercial web in Germany — M6 in France, Holland’s HMG and the U.K.’s Channel 5.

RTL chief exec Didier Bellens predicted that advertising growth in Germany, the group’s main market, would slow to under 3% this year.

Bellens added that RTL was still seeking to buy out the 35% of C5 it does not already own from United Business Media. He said the group had initially offered $315 million, has now upped its offer to $500 million, but that United was asking for $715 million. United head Clive Hollock recently said he would not sell the stake this year.

RTL’s results follow on the news that Richard Eyre, chief exec of Pearson TV and the group’s director of strategy, is leaving at the end of the month (Daily Variety, March 20).

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