Avesco's profits triple with 'Millionaire'

Avesco, the television services group that co-owns Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,
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The Independent Online

Avesco, the television services group that co-owns Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, yesterday reported a near trebling in annual pre-tax profit before exceptional items to £17.1m, thanks to strong contributions from the hit TV game show.

Citing "current difficulties" with media valuations, the company ruled out selling its 49 per cent interest in Complete Communications, which owns the marketing and merchandising rights to Millionaire worldwide and the broadcasting rights outside the United States.

David Nicholson, the chief executive, said: "Given the upside opportunity going forward and the difficulties we would face in getting the right price, there is no active plan to sell. But it's a never say never situation: we wouldn't sell unless it reflected a fair valuation."

Avesco is to expand Millionaire using the internet, next generation mobile phones and digital interactive television. From the autumn, the programme will allow viewers with access to ITV 2 to play along with contestants.

The company's core business of providing television services to companies and renting production equipment saw operating profit rise 20 per cent to £6.6m. Group turnover, including the contribution from Complete, jumped 52 per cent to £103m. Avesco shares closed down 30p at 1,075p.

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