SMG chair issues upbeat statement at AGM

AS reported extensively over the weekend, and previewed on Spike last week, SMG held its annual general meeting on Friday. And this, in full, is what chair, Richard Findlay, issued as his statement:

“I am pleased to report that trading is in line with our expectations. As we previously stated, advertising markets have been varied in the first half of 2007.

“Overall, television airtime revenues are expected to decline in the period to June by seven per cent over the same period last year, but this represents an out-performance against ITV1 as a whole which was down by over nine per cent year on year.

“Having said that, ITV’s view expressed in their recent AGM statement, of a weakness in interactive TV revenues is one we would share.

“Virgin Radio revenues have grown by eight per cent, also outperforming the market, and displaying particularly strong online revenue growth.

“[Cinema advertising division] Pearl & Dean too has seen strong revenue growth of seven per cent, outperforming its five per cent growth in screens, while [outdoor advertising arm] Primesight has grown revenues by eight per cent on flat panel numbers.

“Assuming these trends continue, the board views advertising markets for the remainder of the year with cautious optimism.

“There has been much business activity since the boardroom changes in February and the appointment of Rob Woodward as chief executive. Following renegotiation of our banking facility we have reached agreement with our banks on a renewed facility until September 2008.

“We have appointed a new leadership team to work with Rob; we have terminated the sale process of Primesight for the time being and are re-energising the sale of Pearl & Dean.

“In addition, we have announced an [initial public offering] IPO of Virgin Radio. We believe a flotation of Virgin Radio will create a strong and clearly focussed radio business, with a powerful brand and will provide an attractive pure play investment opportunity.

“Once completed, it will leave SMG with a stronger balance sheet on which to move forward and rebuild shareholder value.

“The company intends to announce further details of the turnaround plan for the business by the end of June as previously promised and will be announcing its interim results for the six months ended 30 June in September.”