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Mediaset hit by coronavirus in Q1

Mediaset saw its revenues hit by the Italian and Spanish markets’ exposure to the coronavirus crisis in the quarter to March. The broadcaster posted sales of €682.1 million, down from €718.2 million for the same period last year. Revenues in Italy fell from €492.1 million to €452.4 million.

Mediaset said that revenues in both markets were affected by the significant slowdown in the ad market that began in March in the two European countries that bore the brunt of the early impact of coronavirus.

Costs were more or less in line with last year’s numbers, with savings in Italy being offset by higher costs in Spain. Group EBIT fell from €78.5 million to €41.6 million, with EBIT in Italy standing at negative €20.4 million. The group nevertheless posted a net profit of €14.6 million compared with €36.7 million last year.

CFO Mark Giordani meanwhile told analysts that the group now expected a decision on its stalled MediaForEurope project from the Spanish court considering the case this month, delayed from March as a result of the crisis.

The project – which would see Mediaset’s Italian and Spanish units merge under the aegis of a new Dutch holding company – has been frozen since Mediaset shareholder Vivendi, which opposes it, secured a court victory in Spain.

Giordani also welcomed the arrival of private equity group KKR as an investor in ProSiebenSat.1 in Germany. Mediaset has progressively upped its stake in the German broadcaster, fuelling speculation about its ultimate intentions. Giordani said that KKR’s involvement endorsed its view that ProSiebenSat.1 was a good investment.