Operating profits double at 'Birmingham Post' group: Publisher acquires regional titles from Thomson

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MIDLAND Independent Newspapers, publisher of the Birmingham Post and the Coventry Evening Telegraph, reported a surge in profits, propelling it closer to a return on its audacious pounds 125m buyout in 1991.

Operating profits more than doubled, from pounds 6.1m in 1991 to pounds 13.4m in 1992 - comfortably covering the pounds 9.6m interest bill on its pounds 126m of debt and loan stock.

The group also announced the acquisition from Thomson of 10 regional newspaper titles under the Herald and Post banner, strengthening its presence in the south and east Midlands.

The management team, led by Chris Oakley and backed by Candover Investments and CINVen, was considered to have paid a full price when it bought the business from Ingersoll Newspapers. It plans to float the business on the stock market eventually.

Costs were cut by 8.5 per cent to pounds 53m, as the group axed jobs and introduced new rotas and salary structures. A new colour-handling unit saved on outside costs.

Revenues grew by 3.7 per cent. Job advertising, the most important source of advertising revenue, fell by 19 per cent. MIN reported 'small encouraging signs' of a pick-up in property and job ads in the current year.

Sir Norman Fowler, the former cabinet minister, was paid pounds 25,000 as non-executive chairman.

Heavy losses in the Birmingham- based free weeklies division were largely stemmed by the final quarter.

Magazine launch costs hit profits of the non-newspaper side - down pounds 89,000 to pounds 224,000.