Advertising downturn hits newspaper group Mecom

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The Independent Online

Profits at David Montgomery's publishing group Mecom plunged by 75 per cent in the first six months of the year after a collapse in advertising revenues.

Mecom reported an operating profit of €18.7m (£16m) between January and June yesterday, down from €74.6m in the first half of 2008, as advertising revenues fell by 22 per cent. The group added: "There is a stabilising trend in evidence after a low point in February."

Mr Montgomery, a former editor of the News of the World, hailed the group's stability after an uncertain start to the year. He said: "The results demonstrate we have managed the recession and the debt well."

Mr Montgomery faced down a coup from six fellow directors in January, while the group's future was uncertain as it looked to renegotiate its debt with its lending banks. However, it secured a new bank facility, raised €156m through a rights issue and sold off German and Norway assets for €210m. These moves helped to slash its debts from £683m in December to £379m.

"The financial situation is now stable," Mr Montgomery added.