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Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Australia’s Fairfax Media reports loss


Australia’s second-largest press group Fairfax Media yesterday reported a first-half net loss of A$365.3 million (US$237.4 million) as it wrote down the value of assets.

Fairfax, which publishes the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age in Melbourne, said the result for the six months ended Dec. 28 compared with a net profit of A$196 million a year earlier.

It included a non-cash impairment charge of A$447.5 million as the group wrote down the values of its mastheads, licenses and goodwill across all its publishing and broadcast businesses. Fairfax said the result also included A$62.4 million in restructuring and redundancy charges after laying off workers.

The company announced in August that it would slash 5 percent of its work force, or 550 jobs, as part of a plan to save A$50 million.

Underlying profit, which strips out one-off events, fell 23 percent year on year to A$157.6 million.

“Fairfax Media has today reported a creditable first half trading result in the face of a significant deterioration in economic conditions,” chief executive Brian McCarthy said in a statement.

“Our overall trading performance has benefited strongly from the company’s strategy of diversification covering print, radio and online assets across an expanded geographic base,” he said. “The diversification strategy was designed to deliver greater revenue stability in an economic downturn and this has been successful.”

McCarthy, who took over as chief executive after the resignation of David Kirk in early December, said the group was focused on continued operational improvement.

“For now, we have battened down the hatches and we will ride this storm out,” he said.

Fairfax declared a dividend of A$0.02 a share, down from A$0.10 a year ago.

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