November 7, 2018 / 9:11 PM / 13 days ago

Broadcaster ProSieben cuts payout ration, flags large one-offs

MUNICH/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - ProSiebenSat.1 (PSMGn.DE) cut its dividend payout ratio and warned it may have to book up to 400 million euros ($457 million) in one-offs this year, as the ailing German commercial broadcaster unveiled a strategy update to revive its fortunes.

FILE PHOTO - The logo of Germany's biggest commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG is pictured in front of their headquarters in Unterfoehring, near Munich, Germany in this February 26, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

The group said it would pay out half of adjusted net profit as dividend from 2018 onward, down from 80-90 percent in previous years. It also plans up to 250 million euros in share buybacks over one to two years.

“This will give us more financial headroom for important investment areas such as local content, platforms and technologies,” finance chief Jan Kemper said in a statement.

The group said it was also reviewing it U.S. studio contracts and, depending on the outcome of the renegotiation, this could result in an earnings impact of up to 400 million euros in 2018.

The details come ahead of a comprehensive strategy update scheduled for Nov. 14, aimed at reassuring investors after the company’s shares have fallen by nearly a fifth since new Chief Executive Max Conze took the helm in June.

Anticipating more moderate growth of organic revenues, ProSieben also cut its 2018 outlook for sales, now expecting them to fall by a low single-digit percentage to around 4 billion euros. It previously forecast a low to mid single-digit percentage gain.

Investments to expand its entertainment offerings will result in a 50 million euro hit with regard to adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2019, the group said.

“We are now initiating the necessary changes and investments to build a truly digital, diversified and fast growing ProSiebenSat.1,” Conze said. “We are focusing on Entertainment that people love and commerce offers that people need.”

In the third quarter, sales grew by 1 percent to 892 million euros, while adjusted EBITDA fell 13 percent to 175 million, in line with the average forecast in a Reuters poll of banks and brokerages.

The group said it aims to raise sales to 6 billion euros and adjusted EBITDA to 1.5 billion in about five years.

Reporting by Joern Poltz and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Tom Brown

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