BSkyB dishes up tasty 170m pounds profit

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The Independent Online
A MILLION new subscribers, taking the number to 3.45 million, lifted operating profits at BSkyB nearly 177 per cent to pounds 170m, while turnover was up 45 per cent at pounds 550m in the year ended June.

The company made a pounds 20m exceptional profit, principally from the sale of the second Marcopolo satellite, although it had to write off pounds 4.3m in start-up costs at the Nickelodeon channel, in which it has a half share.

Attributable profits after bank interest, but not including interest on its pounds 1.1bn of shareholder loans, more than tripled to pounds 177m ( pounds 54m).

Rising cash flow is increasingly enabling BSkyB to repay debt and swap shareholder loans for bank finance. During the year it replaced pounds 500m of its pounds 1.6bn shareholder debt with bank debt.

Its shareholders - News Corp, with a 50 per cent stake, Pearson and Chargeurs, with 17.5 per cent each, and Granada with 13.5 per cent - have so far received about pounds 620m. But Richard Brooke, chief financial officer, said payments out of cash flow could rise from pounds 120m to pounds 200m by the end of this year.

He played down the possibility of a flotation, however, saying the shareholders had not asked him to prepare for such a move.

City analysts have suggested BSkyB could be worth about pounds 4.6bn.

Critics have claimed sales of satellite dishes, which are used by three-quarters of subscribers, have slowed, but the company insists it sees no sign that they have peaked.