SHARES in broadcaster UTV Media fell yesterday after the company took a huge hit on its Irish radio business, sending it into an annual loss.
The group, which controls a host of radio stations in Ireland and England, including Q102, FM 104 and TalkSport, as well as owning the broadcast rights for ITV in the North, took a £45m (€54m) writedown on the carrying value of the Irish operation, pushing the company into an overall loss of £25.4m.
In a statement, the company said a review of its business had "identified a £45m impairment in Radio Ireland's intangible assets".
"This non-cash charge has arisen from a combination of a downward revision of growth forecasts for that division together with the use of a higher country specific discount rate for the Republic of Ireland (than the UK)," UTV added.
The discount rate is related to the future earnings from assets. The higher rate was due to what UTV called a "greater sovereign debt risk" in relation to the Republic.
The writedown reduced the value of the company's Radio Ireland business to €84m, down from €140m a year earlier.
Radio Ireland's operating profit of £6.4m was down 8pc from the previous year as the company dealt with what it called an "extremely difficult" trading environment.
UTV hit the headlines in February when a boardroom bust-up saw former chairman John McGuckian and board members Kevin Lagan and Shane Reihill step down over alleged corporate governance issue.
Yesterday, company chief executive John McCann said UTV hoped to appoint new directors by the annual general meeting in May.
Excluding the impairment charge, UTV recorded profits from continuing operations of £18.6m, up 13pc compared to a year earlier. Revenue rose 2.1pc to £121.5m. The final dividend was boosted to 4.5p, pushing the final dividend up 50pc to 6p while net debt has now been cut in half over the last three years to £52.9m.
Chief executive John McCann said he was "very pleased" with his firm's performance against a "testing" background.
The radio businesses in Britain and Ireland now account for more than 70pc of profits for the business and they delivered a "robust performance" on the year, according to chairman Helen Kirkpatrick. TalkSport was boosted from the Rugby World Cup and Premier League match commentaries.
The results were broadly in line with expectations, according to Davy Stockbrokers' Simon McGrotty.
"These are a strong set of results with UTV continuing to grow revenues and earnings despite difficult trading conditions," he said.
UTV shares closed down 4pc at 138.5p.