Mediapro sets higher targets after record financial results for 2016
Mediapro expects to generate revenues of around €1.6 billion ($1.69 billion) this year, a figure which would represent an improvement on a record 2016, according to the Spanish sports rights and production agency.
The Barcelona-based company today announced turnover of €1.536 billion for last year, an increase of 1.7 per cent on the €1.51 billion in 2015, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose by 24.6 per cent, from €130 million to €162 million. Earnings are anticipated to hit €200 million in 2017.
Meanwhile, net debt has fallen by €70 million, or around a third, from €213 million to €143 million.
Mediapro said that it generates 70 per cent of turnover from its international client portfolio.
In sport, the agency holds domestic and international rights to Spanish soccer’s LaLiga, for which it also handles the production, and it also delivers matches or provides broadcast equipment for soccer leagues in Portugal, France, Turkey, Greece, Gabon, Bolivia, Colombia, Qatar, Angola, Abu Dhabi and Mozambique.
It also submitted a bid for the rights in Argentina to the country’s top soccer league for 2017-18 onwards, only to lose out to US broadcasting giants Fox and Turner last month.
Mediapro said that 2016 was notable for the launch of the premium BeIN LaLiga channel, a joint venture with BeIN Sports, the international pay-TV broadcaster, which shows eight live matches from each round of the Spanish top-tier and extensive live coverage of the Copa del Rey, and Gol, the free-to-air digital terrestrial channel, which offers live and delayed broadcasts of various sports, including soccer, tennis, basketball and cycling, and ended the year with the greatest growth among all new channels.
There was also a wider footprint for Canal F1 Latinoamérica, the specialist Formula 1 television channel launched by Mediapro in 2015, after it acquired rights to the series across Latin America, with the notable exception of Brazil.
Mediapro claimed that growth in international business was driven by new offices and headquarters in Havana, Athens, New York, La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia, and that it now has presence in 40 cities worldwide.
Objectives for this year include the development of digital, especially in the eSports sector, where it is an investor in the LVP, the Spanish video games league, which experienced a 20-per-cent increase in audiences in the first quarter, content production for the international market and continued investment in state-of-the-art technology such as 4K and strengthening its presence in strategic markets such as the Americas and Asia.
However, last week, the CNMC, the Spanish antitrust regulator, launched an investigation into alleged anti-competition practices by Mediapro relating to the distribution of the premium BeIN Sports and BeIN LaLiga channels.
Mediapro is accused of applying “discriminatory and unequal business conditions” in the wholesale marketing of the two channels to pay-television operators in the country, according to the CNMC.
The probe focuses, in particular, on those operators seeking to offer the channels via the internet on ‘over-the-top’ platforms.
It was prompted by a complaint from Obwan Networks and Services, which markets sports content in Spain on pay-TV platform Opensport.
Reuters quoted Mediapro as saying that it did not believe it had committed any offence.
Suitors have been competing to acquire a significant stake in Imagina, Mediapro’s parent company, in recent months.
However, it was reported last month that the number of bidders was down to three – Access Industries, Advent International and Pamplona Capital.
The trio are targeting an initial 23-per-cent holding being sold by Spanish private equity firm Torreal, headed up by billionaire Juan Abello.
Imagina’s other shareholders include international advertising giant WPP (23 per cent), Mexican media group Televisa (19 per cent) and directors Tatxo Benet, Jaume Roures and Gerard Romy (all 12 per cent), and there have been reports that they could be prepared to divest too if there is an attractive bid for 51 per cent of the shares.
It was claimed in March that a deal would now value the company at around €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion), down from a previous estimate of €2 billion made by Citigroup and Lazard, the two banks that have been advising Torreal and Mediapro.
There were initially up to 10 offers for the Imagina stake, including several from China, but it was reported that companies from that country lost interest, in part because the valuation was considered too high, and also because the Chinese government has put restrictions on the buying and selling of Western companies to avoid large outflows of capital.