Business Irish

Wednesday 24 September 2014

ITV football line-up to lure viewers

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Published 15/05/2014 | 02:30

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BRITISH broadcaster ITV says a stronger line up of programmes, including the start of the soccer World Cup finals in June, should help it to claw back lost viewers and boost net advertising revenue by 12-13pc in the second quarter. The broadcaster – which is a major supplier of content to the Irish market via TV3 and, from next year, UTV – said its programmes had not attracted the audiences it wanted in the first four months of the year, losing almost 2pc of its market share. Its share of viewing has been lower than expected so far this year, chief executive Adam Crozier said, adding that the company is confident in a "strong schedule to come", including the World Cup in June. ITV shares broadcasting rights for the World Cup tournament in Brazil with the publicly funded BBC.

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ITV has been building up its production capabilities to reduce its reliance on advertising revenue of late and last week bought US reality TV producer Leftfield Entertainment for up to $800m (€583m).

ELIZABETH ARDEN ASKS GOLDMAN SACHS FOR HELP

RETAIL

SHARES in Elizabeth Arden, the owner of the eponymous cosmetics and Britney Spears brand perfumes, fell the most in five years after the company posted a surprise loss and hired Goldman Sachs "to help explore its options".

Sales slid 20pc to $210.8m (€154m) in the quarter which ended in March. Analysts had estimated that the Miramar, Florida-based company would generate revenues of $255.7m. Elizabeth Arden is suffering from sluggish perfume demand in North America and heavy discounting overseas. Cold weather also hurt sales last quarter, when an "unprecedented number" of stores were forced to close, chief executive E. Scott Beattie said.

The company confirmed that it hired Goldman Sachs to explore its strategic alternatives.

The move followed remarks from South Korea's LG Household & Health Care, which said last month that it's considering bidding for the fragrance maker. Elizabeth Arden is relying on Goldman to contact private- equity firms and other potential buyers.

PFIZER ALLAYS FEAR OF DISRUPTION IN ASTRAZENECA BID

PHARMACEUTICALS

PFIZER says it will ringfence the development of important drugs if it acquired AstraZeneca, rejecting a charge from the British company that a takeover would disrupt important research and put lives at risk. "As we put these companies together, we will continue with our pipeline, AZ will continue with theirs," Pfizer's chief executive Ian Read, below, told MPs on a second day of questioning about what could be the biggest ever UK corporate deal. "There is absolutely no truth to any comment that some products of critical nature would be delayed getting to patients, if anything we would accelerate that to patients." AstraZeneca said on Tuesday that Pfizer's proposal risked disrupting its research and delaying getting life-saving new drugs to market, as well as undervaluing the business.

The British government is deeply concerned about the impact of a takeover on the country's science base. The US company has a record of making deep job cuts after past takeovers of companies including Wyeth, Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia.

ABERCROMBIE CUT CEO'S PAY FROM $8.16M TO $2.2M

FASHION

ABERCROMBIE chief executive Michael Jeffries saw his pay shrink 72pc last year as the teen retailer's sales and profit fell, the company has revealed. Total compensation for Jeffries was $2.24m (€1.6m) in 2013, the Ohio-based company said in a filing. That's down from $8.16m in the previous year and $48.1m in 2011.

Jeffries, 69, has struggled to regain Abercrombie's appeal among teenage shoppers, resulting in a 77pc profit decline last year. The company also stripped Jeffries of his chairman role this year, created a new chief operating officer job and named four new independent directors to its board as part of a deal with investor Engaged Capital.

Abercrombie's stock has slid 28pc in the past 12 months, compared with a 16pc gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

PHARMA EXECS CHARGED WITH BRIBING DOCTORS

CORRUPTION

CHINESE police have charged the British former China head of drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline and other colleagues with corruption, after a probe found the firm made billions of yuan from elaborate schemes to bribe doctors and hospitals. Mark Reilly and two Chinese executives, Zhang Guowei and Zhao Hongyan, were also suspected of bribing officials in the industry and commerce departments of Beijing and Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The case is the biggest corruption scandal to hit a foreign company in China since the Rio Tinto affair in 2009.

The charges – which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison – were seen as harsher than many industry insiders and China-based foreign executives had expected.

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