BSkyB profits leap by 26% to £520m

Broadcaster BSkyB added to the pressure on News Corp's takeover plans today by revealing a 26% jump in profits during an "outstanding" half-year.

In a period when the satellite company broke through the 10 million customer mark, BSkyB said turnover rose 15% to £3.2 billion while operating profits hit £520 million for the six months to the end of December.



BSkyB rejected a 700p a share bid proposal from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp in the summer and today's strong results will add to pressure on the media giant to deliver a sharp hike in any future offer, should it gain regulatory approval.



This week, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was minded to refer News Corp's bid for the shares in BSkyB it does not already own to the Competition Commission but gave the group more time to deliver undertakings.



The number of Sky customer numbers increased by 140,000 in the final quarter of 2010 as it reported the fastest broadband growth for more than two years and a 68% increase in subscriptions to high definition television.



Almost one in four Sky customers now take all three of TV, broadband and telephone contracts, the company said.



Sky also announced plans to create 1,500 jobs by opening new contact centres across the UK, with a new site in Sheffield the next to open.



A new service, Sky Anywhere, will launch later in the year to allow customers to access Sky programmes on their computers when they are away from their homes.



The service will be supported by the acquisition of public wi-fi operator The Cloud.



Next week, a new channel, Sky Atlantic, will be launched on Sky to screen new series from American channel HBO, as well as the fifth season of award-winning drama Mad Men which was recently poached from the BBC.



Chief executive Jeremy Darroch said he was cautious about 2011 as the Government's austerity plans begin to bite but added that there was significant potential for long-term growth in the entertainment and communications marketplace.



Shares in BSkyB were up nearly 2% to 771p after the update, comfortably above News Corp's offer price of 700p in June when it first tried to buy the 61% of the company it does not already own.



At the time Sky dismissed the offer as an undervaluation and called for offers in excess of 800p a share but agreed to work with the Rupert Murdoch company to clear the way for a potential merger.



Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: "Despite the inevitable distractions of the News Corp bid, Sky continues to power ahead regardless.



"Its recent growth trajectory has been maintained, with the 10 million customer mark having been surpassed by the end of last year as forecast.



"The News Corp situation could drag on for a while yet, but in the meantime Sky is firing on all cylinders."



If News Corp's bid to take full control of Sky is referred to the Competition Commission, it could be delayed by six months, according to analysts, by which time shares in Sky could have increased further.



Analysts at Numis Securities have already raised their target price from 800p to 825p to reflect the rise in the stock market since News Corp first made its approach.



Sky said it has so far incurred costs of £7 million on administration fees for News Corp's takeover bid and said it will continue to co-operate with the ongoing regulatory process.





Asked whether David Cameron would be meeting or speaking by phone to Rupert Murdoch while the pair are both at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, tomorrow, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a daily Westminster press briefing: "No."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent