NEWS BYTES

By | March 28, 2001 | Feature

  • Money Channel CEO Tony Hobman says he wants to dispel the “daft” rumours that his service is about to seek an emergency rights issue from shareholders. Hobman, in a March 21 interview with Bloomberg, says the company still has GBP2.6 million in the bank, down 45 per cent since October 1. On March 20 its share price hit an all-time low with stock changing hands at 6p, finishing the day (and the week) at 9p and giving the channel a market capitalisation of barely GBP5.3m (E8.5m). The fall meant that Money’s stock had plunged 94 per cent in the past 12 months (and 56 per cent since February 12) and one might sense that its shares would have all the appeal of a Foot & Mouth infected lamb. But no, on March 26 more than two million shares changed hands before midday, at prices between 9p and 13p, representing a 33 per cent rise on the day. Current cash-burn is something in excess of GBP350,000 per month, which gives Money Channel elbow room of some seven months of cash-in-hand, plus whatever income is being generated. Hobman says he is looking at ways of improving its own finances and talked about opportunities to strengthen finances and make alliances. Money Channel closes its current financial year on March 31 and is scheduled to announce its results on June 30.

  • Moscow-based NTV channel says it expects to make profits of between $10-$15 million this year, according to director general Yevgeny Kiselyov. When asked why the US media tycoon Ted Turner wanted to buy a stake in NTV, taking into account the company’s problems with local authorities and significant financial obligations, Kiselyov noted, “Of course, it is more natural for our mentality to invest only in short-term projects, the risks being too high for long-term investments. But a company’s actual value depends not only on current operations, but also on prospects for growth.”

  • Intelsat has secured a $1 billion (E1.12bn) credit facility “intended to provide liquidity support for the expansion of the company’s business and privatisation expenses, including a final distribution to its current investors” according to a statement. Intelsat is currently scheduled to be privatised on 18 July 2001, when it will become self- funding.

  • New Skies Satellites has launched an additional DVB platform to carry Internet traffic to India-based firms, says the company, “on extremely strong demand for service. A third platform is planned for implementation later this year.”

  • Finance channel Simply Money has pulled out of the personal finance market and will rebrand itself Simply Shopping in April. There will be redundancies and staff have been informed. Simply Money will continue broadcasting pre-recorded material for the time being and a statement from Invest TV, the station’s owner, says it is in talks with “advertisers, retailers and direct response companies to [develop] transactional informercial and tele-shopping content.” Invest TV has also struck a trading relationship with Best Direct, the infomercials producer, which claims turnover of GBP45m (E72.1m) based on fitness, house wares and DIY products. The first products will appear on screen “early in April” according to the company.

  • The administrative council of Telespazio (part of Telecom Italia) has approved the 2000 budget which totalled L710 billion (E367m), up 4.5 per cent compared to 1999, and net profits of L22.2bn (L1bn in 1999). Financial debts stood at L235bn compared to L194bn one year earlier. The investments reached L255bn, out of which L170 billion for the Astrolink project.

  • The administrative council of Alenia Marconi Systems, a joint venture company between Italy’s Finmeccanica and UK-based BAE Systems, has nominated Antonio Bontempi to the post of deputy chief executive officer. Bontempi, who formerly held the post of CEO at WASS, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, will work with CEO David Singleton at Alenia Marconi Systems.

  • New Skies Satellites NV, the global satellite communications company, is using Williams Communications’ teleport facilities for New Skies’ Asia Pacific satellite, giving customers a combined fibre and satellite connection between North America and the Pacific Rim.
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