Morning business news - August 30

Friday 30 August 2013 10.33
Morning business news with Emma McNamara
Morning business news with Emma McNamara

INM'S HALF YEARLY RESULTS SHOW REVENUE DIP OF OVER 8% - Independent News and Media's results for the first half of its financial year are slightly ahead of expectations. The company has reported operating profit of €15.2m, up 8.6%. Its loss before tax was €9.6m, down from losses of €161m this time last year. INM's revenue was down 8.2% to €164m, but it said it has reduced its costs and seen digital revenue grow by just over 8%. The company says that while trading conditions on the island of Ireland remain difficult, there was a notable improvement in the advertising performance from June to August, as the group experienced smaller year-on-year declines.

Vincent Crowley, Independent's News and Media group chief executive, says the company is planning to introduce a ''leaky paywall'' for its readers. Describing it as a ''metered'' service, he says people will be able to access a number of articles and when they reach their limit, they will be asked to pay in order to read more. Mr Crowley says that INM will charge people who are committed and interested in what the company offers. The INM CEO says the company's main focus is on developing its digital offering and to this end, it announced a new digital managing director, Fiona O'Carroll in the last few days. He says that most of the company's new revenue opportunities are in the digital area.

Mr Crowley said that in the six months to June, advertising levels were down 30%, but since June they have only declined by about 3 to 4%. He says the media group is seeing improved levels of advertising from retailers, while there is also a ''bit of light in the commercial property sector''. He says the company is well geared for the uptick in the Irish economy, adding that he remains cautious about when a true recovery will take place.

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MORNING BUSINESS - Reports this morning suggest that David Went, the Irish Times chairman, is to stand down in coming months.

*** United Drug is to buy the marketing, call centre and sample management businesses of the Canadian firm - Medical Communications Group - for about €11.2m in the next six weeks. MCG is a healthcare marketing business headquartered in Montreal, and it provides outsourced services to over 60 pharmaceutical and healthcare companies in Canada.

*** HMV is to be integrated into 26 Xtra-vision stores across the country by the end of next month, its new owner Hilco has said. The restructuring specialist said it will operate four standalone HMV stores as part of its plan to return the music retailer to Ireland; and that it has agreed with a number of landlords to "dual brand" some of its stores with Xtra-vision and HMV. Last April, Hilco bought HMV in the UK and Republic, where it was going through separate insolvency procedures. It bought Xtra-vision out of receivership earlier this summer.