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INL has 'satisfactory' start to year

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Friday 20th October 2000

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Media company Independent Newspapers says it has made a satisfactory start to the current financial year although there has been some slowing of advertising sales, and its Sky investment is being hit by the lower kiwi dollar.

The company told its annual general meeting in Wellington that because many Sky programming costs are in US dollars, the continued weakness of the New Zealand currency is having an adverse effect on the pay-TV company.

However INL - which owns 47% of Sky - also says it expects subscriber growth to top 400,000 by the end of the year, and a successful cash issue which raised $80 million for the network ensures it has the financial strength to continue its aggressive growth policies. At the end of September Sky had 389,000 residential subscribers.

Chairman, Sir Colin Maiden, says while the outcome of the investment in Sky has added an incremental $166 million to the original cost of $404 million for INL, he is convinced the Sky investment will be good for shareholders.

"I cannot overstate the value of Sky for the future positioning of the company in the New Zealand media world."

In Australia INL says the start of the current year has been difficult, with the introduction of GST and the Olympics having an adverse effect on trading.

There has also been a falloff in activity in Auckland, although the company's provincial operations in New Zealand are benefiting from the stronger rural economy.

The company says its venture into the online world, stuff, has exceeded expectations.

"We were criticised for our late arrival on the scene but I believe that our timing in this matter has contributed to our success," says INL managing director Mike Robson.

Mr Robson says stuff's advertising revenue is accelerating.

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