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
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat