France's M6 holds 2013 sales stable amid weak advertising demand

PARIS Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:58am EST

PARIS Feb 18 (Reuters) - France's second-largest private broadcaster M6 posted stable revenue and a decline in operating profit last year amid weak demand for advertising in its home market.

M6, which competes with TF1 and France's public broadcasters, saw sales of 1.38 billion euros ($1.90 billion), slightly above analyst expectations of 1.36 billion euros.

It held advertising revenues stable at its TV channels, which include flagship M6, W9 and newcomer Sixter, despite a slight decline in viewership as new competing channels gain in popularity.

Operating profit fell 5.6 percent to 206.2 million euros, while net profit fell by 20.1 percent to 112.1 million, hurt by investments in new channels and taxes, as well as the sale of online retailer MisterGooddeal at a loss.

M6 said that it paid 13.3 million euros in additional taxes last year as France raised its corporate tax rate and way of taxing dividends. The soccer team owned by M6, the Bordeaux Girondins, also got hit with a 2.4 million euros tax bill after roughly a dozen of its players were affected by the government's new 75 percent tax on high salaries.

"In a difficult market, especially for TV, our businesses did better in 2013 than in 2012," said Jerome Lefebure, chief financial officer.

M6 said it would pay a stable dividend for the year at 0.85 euros per share. ($1 = 0.7272 euros) (Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Natalie Huet)