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Perf points Premiere toward public

Net loss narrowed by 76% to E24.4 mil

BERLIN — Bolstered by positive results, German digital pay platform Premiere is a step closer to its planned flotation on the stock market next year after adopting the joint-stock structure of an Aktiengesellschaft or AG, equivalent to incorporation in the U.S.

Topper Georg Kofler, who extended his contract for another five years, will remain CEO of the new Premiere holding. Also staying put are finance chief Michael Boernicke, head of sales and marketing Markus Schmid, programming chief Hans Seger and strategy and development topper Friedrich-Carl Wachs.

Releasing its nine-month report Tuesday, Premiere narrowed its net loss by 76% to E24.4 million ($31.5 million), while revenue climbed 7.4% to $930 million — a result Kofler called extremely satisfying and well above the average for German media industry.

Adding 117,000 customers between July and September boosted subscriber numbers to more than 3 million and helped Premiere achieve its first net profit of $19.9 million in the third quarter.

A new accounting standard also improved Premiere’s bottom line. Adoption of the Intl. Financial Accounting Standard (IFAS) means Premiere does not have to write off some $1.4 billion in intangible assets, improving its overall net result.

After its takeover last year by investment firm Permira, Premiere was forced to revalue assets, leaving it with the weighty writeoff.

Kofler said Premiere had reached critical mass for profitable growth, adding that profit would increase in 2005.

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