Business Irish

Sunday 19 November 2017

Communicorp 'intensively' managing portfolio after €5m loss

Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

RADIO giant Communicorp is battening down the hatches and "intensively" managing its portfolio after the recession triggered bottom-line losses of almost €5m last year.

The statement of intent is laid out in documents just filed by Communicorp, which also show the group managed to return operating profits last year despite suffering a €20m fall in revenue.

Ireland's largest commercial radio group, Communicorp operates 42 radio stations across nine countries, including Today FM and the Spin stations in Ireland.

The group is owned by businessman Denis O'Brien, who is also the single largest shareholder in Irish Independent publisher Independent News & Media.

The group's recent history was marked by acquisitions, with Communicorp expanding its reach to Jordan in 2008.

The accounts for 2009 show no new stations were added that year, as Communicorp bosses channelled their energies into cutting costs by 20pc.

"[Since the end of 2009] the most significant event has been an unprecedented period of global economic challenges and market volatility," Communicorp directors said in a statement signed on November 26.

"We will maintain our strategy of managing the portfolio intensively, focusing tightly on managing cash resources while retaining a cautious outlook."

The austerity comes after last year saw Communicorp's global sales shrink from €85m to €65m, reflecting "difficult" market and trading conditions.

The figures show Communicorp's overall expenses bill shrank by €14m to €54m last year, including a €3m fall in staff costs as headcount dipped from 779 to 740.

"This focus on costs . . . was a key feature of our radio operations -- mitigating the revenue downturn and contributing to an operating profit of €2.7m," the firm's directors said.

A €3m fall in Communicorp's 2009 interest bill made the year-on-year deterioration in the group's bottom line less marked, with 2009's €5m loss coming in about €2.5m worse than 2008's.

The group closed the year with a shareholders' deficit of more than €20m but said it had "adequate resources" to keep trading. Communicorp is backed by about €220m of debt from Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland, including €18m falling due in 2010.

Irish Independent

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