€580m share buyback scheme as BSkyB takes aim at rival BT
BSKYB announced a new £500m (€580m) share buyback programme yesterday as its full-year results showed the group in fighting spirits ahead of a pending pay-TV battle with telecoms rival BT.
The UK's biggest paid television broadcaster, which employs 1,000 people in Ireland, also hiked its full-year dividend by 18pc.
That capped off full-year results which showed an adjusted operating profit up 9pc to £1.3bn, boosted by a rise in the amount customers were willing to pay for its service to an annual average of £577. Sales for the year rose 7pc to £7.24bn, ahead of average analyst expectations which tipped it at £7.19bn.
Its one weak spot was the addition of 51,000 net new customers to the service in the fourth quarter, below forecasts of 72,000.
The results for the 12 months ending in June are the last update the company will give before its deep-pocketed rival BT launches a new sports TV service in August, available in Ireland through Setanta Sports.
BT wants to use its rights to Premier League matches to maintain its leadership of the market for broadband services, since many consumers are now looking to buy bundled packages including paid TV, telephony and broadband. Sky began offering bundled broadband and phone services to Irish customers in February through BT Ireland's wholesale broadband network, with Eircom's network utilised in areas where BT's services are not offered.
US streaming service Netflix and Amazon's European movie offering Lovefilm are also edging into BSkyB's home country. As part of its plans to keep ahead, BSkyB said it will invest in its on-demand television service and its mobile video capabilities, which could impact next year's operating profits by £60m to £70m.
Shares in the company fell 3.29pc to £8.22 yesterday afternoon. (Additional reporting by Reuters)