Radio group narrows losses

Denis O'Brien - Communicorp owner.

Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp radio group is expecting strong revenue growth this year after sharply reducing its losses last year.

The media group counts Newstalk and Today FM here amongst its stations and new accounts filed with the Companies Office show that the group reduced its pre-tax losses by 88.5% last year to €4.2m.

The €35.79m pre-tax loss recorded in 2012 arose from a €39m write-down in assets.

The accounts show that the group sustained a 27% decline in revenues last year going from €58.16m to €42.2m and the decrease in revenues is linked to the disposal of the business’s interests in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Finland in 2012 and Hungary in 2013.

The directors state that the group’s Irish business - that counts Pat Kenny, George Hook, Ray D’Arcy, Ian Dempsey, Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates amongst its star performers - last year ‘steadied’ with revenues up 5% in Bulgaria and Latvia.

The figures show that revenues in Ireland last year dipped by just over 1% from €35.23m to €34.76m.

The directors state: “The outlook for 2014 is positive and we expect revenue growth across the group.”

The directors add that through continued focus on cost control by management, the group recorded operating profits of €2m compared to €4.4m in 2012 “despite the reduction in overall revenue”.

The directors state: “These management actions have provided the group with a platform for future growth.”

The group reduced its bank borrowing by €13.9m in 2013 and in total the group has deleveraged total borrowings, including shareholder loans by €95.5m since January 1st 2011.

At the end of December last, the group operated 19 stations and the group’s loss takes account of combined non-cash depreciation and amortisation costs of €1.17m.

Numbers employed by the group last year reduced from 612 to 508 with staff costs declining by 18.7% from €19.5m to €15.8m. The breakdown of staff numbers show that 270 are employed in production and engineering; 156 in sales and marketing and 82 in administration and management.

Remuneration for the group’s directors lat year increased from €455,000 to €474,000.

Along with its Newstalk and Today FM interests here, the group also operates 98FM, Spin 1038, Spin South West and TXFM.

Communicorp is the largest commercial radio owner here and in Latvia and Bulgaria. The group also operates two stations in Jordan.

In March of this year, Communicorp purchased eight regional radio stations in the UK, making it the fourth largest station owner there.


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