Anglia adds pounds 5m to MAI's profits: Close co-operation between television groups yields benefits Focus will shift to production investment

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The Independent Online
ANGLIA Television contributed pounds 5m to operating profits at MAI, the media and financial services company that paid pounds 292m for it in March.

Lord Hollick, managing director, said the acquisition was performing better than expected. 'It has all been nice surprises. We said when we did the deal that we did not expect it to dilute earnings in the current year; if anything we are slightly ahead of that plan.'

He added that the restructuring of Anglia's business - which has involved 170 job losses - was complete and the focus would shift to investment in areas such as programme production.

Close co-operation between Anglian and Meridian, MAI's other television company, which holds the neighbouring franchise for the south and south-east of England, was already yielding 'significant operating benefits'.

Meridian turned a pounds 3.5m loss in the year to June 1993 - when it was only operating for six months - into a pounds 3.7m profit. Lord Hollick said it had come through its first year of operation 'with flying colours'. Advertising growth was healthy, he added.

MAI is planning to bid for the Channel 5 franchise, the auction for which was announced by the Government last week, in conjunction with Pearson and Time Warner. It also continues to campaign against the rule that prevents any company owning more than two Channel 3 franchises.

The media results helped MAI to increase taxable profits from pounds 80.2m to pounds 87.9m in the year to June. That was despite a pounds 16.8m loss on the sale of Safeguard Insurance Services, largely due to goodwill that had previously been written off. Operating profits were a third higher at pounds 94.4m.

The City, however, was disappointed by the performance from its money-broking arm and the shares were marked down 23p to 255.5p. The money broking arm raised profits by 9.5 per cent to pounds 61.2m.

Lord Hollick said the money markets 'are quieter than they were a year ago, but the underlying trend is good'. He added that it hadlifted market share and customer base and become the first foreign broker to be awarded a licence to deal in Japanese yen bonds.

He admitted that it was likely to be difficult to break the hold of Japanese firms in the market but added: 'I expect it to grow into a significant contributor, although not overnight.'

The car loan business, Wagon Finance, increased profits 24 per cent to pounds 11.4m, helped by increases in car sales and a reduction in bad debts. Insurance products, introduced during the past few years, also did well, boosting the division's profits to pounds 10.8m.

Group sales rose 34 per cent to pounds 709.7m while earnings were 16 per cent higher at 18.4p. The dividend is being increased from 6.9p to 7.8p, with a final payment of 5.8p (4.9p).

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