In February the company bought a 29.9 per cent stake in Newspaper Publishing, owner of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday. Shortly afterwards it acquired two thirds of Capital Newspapers, the London freesheet publisher, plus a controlling 31 per cent interest in Argus Newspapers, South Africa's largest newspaper group.
'It's been our policy for a number of years to grow the company out of Ireland,' said Liam Healy, chief executive. He pointed out that Australian Provincial Newspapers, in which it has a 25 per cent stake, and Buspak, its Australian outdoor advertising company, were the biggest contributors to growth last year.
Operating profits in the year to end-December rose by more than a fifth to Ir pounds 27m ( pounds 26m) on turnover up 2.2 per cent to Ir pounds 173.5m. Partly thanks to a swing in interest from a pounds 6.1m charge to a pounds 1.1m credit, pre-tax profits rose 80 per cent to Ir pounds 29m. The final dividend is Ir7p, pusing the total up 18 per cent to Ir11p. The shares stayed at 485p.Reuse content