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Mediahuis see profits boosted by acquisitions

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Mediahuis chief executive Gert Ysebaert and chairman Thomas Leysena

Mediahuis chief executive Gert Ysebaert and chairman Thomas Leysena

Mediahuis chief executive Gert Ysebaert and chairman Thomas Leysena

The number of subscribers to Independent.ie has passed 5,000 since a paywall was introduced on February 11th, the company has told staff.

It comes as financial results today show the takeover of Independent News and Media last year immediately boosted the profitability of new owner Mediahuis, as well as contributing five months of higher revenue.

Results published this morning show Mediahuis Group had combined revenue last year of €857.9m including five months of Irish sales, that was up 39pc on 2018.

Recurring earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (r-ebitda) was €118.9m.

Belgium headquartered Mediahuis has emerged a significant European media group through a series of acquisitions in recent years, including in Ireland.

The company reported a net recurring result – or profit after tax but before exceptionals - of €50.7m. That was up almost 10pc on 2018, but reduced to €15m once one off costs including those associated with buying INM and restructuring costs elsewhere were accounted for.

The €145.6m INM takeover had a relatively small impact on leverage, nudging Mediahuis’ net debt from 1.7 times to 1.8 times earnings and to just over €201m in cash terms.

Mediahuis Group CEO Gert Ysebaert said investment in 2019, including in digital acceleration, will translate into higher profitability in 2020.

Mediahuis has all the assets necessary to develop further into a strong European media company

“This ambition combined with our belief in strong independent journalism and the power of our group to guide brands through the digital transformation, ensures that Mediahuis has all the assets necessary to develop further into a strong European media company,” Mr Ysebaert said.

Mediahuis is now one of the leading media groups in each of Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland – with a range of national and regional print and online titles in all three markets.

In Ireland, its titles include independent.ie, the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, Sunday World and regional papers including the Kerryman, and titles including the Belfast Telegraph in Northern Ireland.

In Belgium Mediahuis owns De Standaard; and in the Netherlands it publishes NRC Handelsblad and Der Telegraaf.

The latest results say digital subscriptions increased in both Belgium and the Netherland last year as a result of “a strong digital strategy, in combination with the increasing willingness of consumers to pay for online journalism.”

In Ireland, independent.ie introduced a pay wall this month, in line with that group strategy. The same digital subscription service will be extended to the Belfast Telegraph later in 2020.

In 2019 Mediahuis announced plans to close the Citywest print plant in Dublin – scheduled to finish service this spring with print moving to plants in Cork and Newry.

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