Seven West Media announces $162m loss amid Covid revenue slump

Banks have given the loss-making Seven West Media empire managed by way of Perth billionaire Kerry Stokes an additional seven months to pay again $450m in borrowings as the gang battles an promoting droop caused by way of the coronavirus disaster.

As Seven West on Tuesday declared a loss after tax of $162m, its 2d loss in as a few years, leader govt James Warburton pledged to show the corporate round by way of each promoting off belongings, together with the studio that produces soapie House & Away, and revitalising TV programming that he mentioned had turn out to be “stale and stagnant” below predecessor Tim Worner.

New concepts touted by way of Warburton, who took over a 12 months in the past after Worner surrender following an affair with a workforce member, come with the go back to air of fact display Large Brother, which first aired in Australia in 2001.

Warburton mentioned that once he took over, Seven was once already below force because of the media business’s wider issues.

“It was once a conventional trade, run the previous manner, and it confronted vital demanding situations,” he mentioned.

“Whilst our content material backbone remained forged, we had been shedding our scores dominance because of a stale and stagnant top time leisure providing that was once failing,” he mentioned.

“We close our doorways to the exterior manufacturing group and we had been introverted in our seek for new and recent concepts.”

He mentioned he was once a 12 months in to a three-year plan to revitalise the broadcaster.

“The seeds were sown, they’re beginning to undergo fruit,” he mentioned.

Promoting earnings plunged at each Seven’s free-to-air TV community and its newspaper department, WAN, which publishes the West Australian and regional papers in WA.

Income on the TV community tumbled 15%, to simply over $1bn, whilst earnings at WAN slumped 10%, to $167m.

Additionally riding the loss had been swingeing writedowns to the price of sports activities rights and TV licenses, of $262m, plus an allowance for hard contracts of $136.9m, basically associated with cricket broadcasting.

The corporate benefited from $13.6m in jobkeeper bills, and leader monetary officer Jeff Howard mentioned it will ebook a an identical cost within the present monetary 12 months.

It has additionally minimize workforce and renegotiated its AFL contract.

Warburton mentioned the cash reaped from asset gross sales might be used to cut back the corporate’s debt, which is basically made up of $750m owed to a syndicate of banks.

The banks have given Seven West some much-needed respiring room by way of extending a $450m compensation that was once due in December subsequent 12 months till July 2022 and loosening restrictive covenants over the mortgage till the tip of this 12 months in order that the corporate can maintain the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Property on the market come with Seven Studios, which makes House & Away, in addition to a 50% stake in a three way partnership with 9, TX Australia, that owns TV transmission towers, and a package deal of shareholdings in tech ventures.

As of the tip of June, when its monetary accounts for the 12 months had been dominated off, Seven owed a complete of $750m to the banking syndicate, plus any other $11m one after the other owed to the ANZ.

The rest of the syndicated mortgage is due in December 2022.

Its new association with the banks will come at a steep value in greater pastime bills. Underneath the previous deal, Seven final 12 months paid pastime at a price of about 2%; below the brand new settlement, this will likely upward thrust to greater than four.five%.

Underlining Seven’s tough monetary state of affairs, the corporate published that on the finish of the monetary 12 months it owed $236m extra to collectors than it owned in belongings.

In spite of the web legal responsibility place, Seven’s administrators mentioned the accounts had been ready at the foundation the corporate was once a going fear and was once ready to fulfill its debt covenants till a minimum of August subsequent 12 months since the TV advert marketplace would get well from Covid and it was once making plans to promote belongings and turn out to be the corporate.

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