August 2, 2018 / 8:39 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-ProSieben CEO flags strategy overhaul, says shares can double

* New CEO Conze to unveil new strategy after Q3 results

* Plans “all-out digital attack”, focus on home market

* Q2 results weaker, in line with market expectations

* Shares rally 3.5 percent (New throughout with CEO, CFO comments)

By Douglas Busvine

FRANKFURT, Aug 2 (Reuters) - The new head of German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media said he would unveil a growth strategy this autumn to mount “an all-out digital attack”, setting his sights on doubling the company’s depressed share price.

Max Conze, the former CEO of UK home appliances maker Dyson, was brought in to revive ProSieben’s fortunes after his predecessor struggled to turn around weakening TV ad revenues that account for nearly half of its top line.

ProSieben reported soft second-quarter results that reflected those continuing challenges, although they were in line with market expectations, and reflected currency headwinds and the accounting impact of divestments.

The company has already undergone a reorganisation that is expected to save 50 million euros ($58.11 million) by 2020 and, following up, Conze flagged a strategy overhaul that he will unveil after third-quarter results in November.

“I would be very disappointed if we are not able to double shareholder value in the next three to five years,” Conze said.

BIG SANDBOX

ProSieben, responding to the shift among viewers from the living-room couch to mobile devices, has restructured its business into three divisions - entertainment, content and commerce.

It sees a major opportunity in its German home market, forecasting that the advertising, entertainment and e-commerce markets will grow to a combined 139 billion euros by 2021 from 115 billion last year.

“It’s a big sandbox to play in,” Conze told reporters on a conference call.

His bullish outlook helped lift ProSieben’s shares by up to 4 percent, yet they remain down by 18 percent in the year to date. Conze said he would look at share buybacks as part of the strategy update to erase a valuation discount with competitors.

The Munich-based broadcaster said the seasonal weakness was expected, but added that its TV audience share had held up even as major sporting events like the soccer World Cup aired on Germany’s public channels.

CFO Jan Kemper said higher programme costs would depress profits in the third quarter but be offset in the fourth quarter - traditionally the peak viewing season - enabling ProSieben to stand by its full-year guidance.

ProSieben is looking to stave off the challenge of streaming giants Netflix and Amazon by expanding its own 7TV joint venture with Discovery Inc.

It is in active talks to attract potential partners - including public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, and rival RTL Group .

“It’s early days, but there is good interest,” Conze said. ($1 = 0.8586 euros) (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Maria Sheahan and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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