News Corp's recovery gathers pace: BSkyB among main contributors as after-tax profits surge ahead to Adollars 864m

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The Independent Online
RUPERT MURDOCH'S revived News Corporation underlined its return to health yesterday with a leap in after-tax profits for 1993 from Adollars 501m (pounds 222m) to Adollars 864m.

Lower interest costs, down by 21 per cent to Adollars 737m, were a key element in the earnings growth in the year to June. The group has cut its debt by more than Adollars 1bn as a result of a share offering, the sale of its San Antonio newspaper and strong cash flow.

But a strong performance by associate companies, which produced profits of Adollars 177m compared with a loss of Adollars 57m last year, also helped.

The two main contributors were the BSkyB satellite network, with profits of pounds 26.7m compared with losses the previous year of pounds 13.3m, and Ansett Transport Industries, the Australian airline. Newspapers, magazine and television operations all did well, although film-making remained disappointing - profits at the film division were down from Adollars 127m to Adollars 52.6m.

Regionally, the US continues to contribute most of the Australian group's operating profits - Adollars 964m out of Adollars 1.7bn, a 10 per cent increase thanks largely to a strong performance by the television businesses Fox Broadcasting and Fox Televisions.

In the UK, which contributed Adollars 401m, News International, News Corporation's British arm which owns the Times, Sunday Times, Sun, News of the World and Today - the circulation of which rose 15 per cent last year - saw operating profits rise 13 per cent to pounds 140m.

However, the company said advertising and circulation revenue was flat as a result of the delayed economic upturn. A 9 per cent rise in operating profits was due to productivity gains.

The results, which showed revenues up 5 per cent at Adollars 10.7bn, reflected abnormal items of Adollars 114m, principally unrealised foreign exchange losses at Ansett and were mildly disappointing - analysts had expected profits of nearer Adollars 1bn.

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