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Mediahuis posts strong results for 2016

vrijdag 10 februari 2017

PRESS  RELEASE

Amsterdam, Friday, 10 February, 2017

Digital growth and a solid print base underscore successful development

Mediahuis has posted good figures for 2016, both for the readers’ and advertisers’ markets. Moreover, among other aspects, the company has seen tentative growth in its digital turnover. The operating result exceeds the already-strong 2015 figures.

In 2016 Mediahuis built on the solid results attained during the previous year, and, among other measures, ramped up its digital and audio-visual ambitions. Due in part to good cost management, the consolidated operational cash flow (REBITDA) increased by almost 4 per cent to €64 million; EBIT (€39.5 million) and the net result (€21.7 million) rose by 11 per cent. The Belgian activities of Mediahuis and those of NRC in the Netherlands were almost equally responsible for this growth.

In 2016, all Mediahuis news brands sold an average of 754,652 copies every day. In line with the way the market is evolving, total sales of all Belgian Mediahuis titles decreased by 3.7 per cent. However, total digital sales increased by 10 per cent. In the Netherlands both NRC Handelsblad (+ 6.1 per cent) and nrc.next (+ 6 per cent) recorded substantial growth, mainly due to strong digital sales.

“We are pleased with this evolution,” assured CEO Gert Ysebaert. “More and more new consumers are opting for a popular combination of digital and print. Our growth is clearly driven by the digital sales of our brands. The digital share at NRC Handelsblad is now 28.8 per cent. Meanwhile, Digital sales of De Standaard rose by more than 20 per cent in 2016 and these now account for 17 per cent of total circulation sales.”

The advertising market remained under pressure in 2016 and was very volatile. However, despite this volatility, Mediahuis realised modest growth in its advertising sales (+ 1.1 per cent) in Belgium. Revenue from digital advertising grew (+ 14.5 per cent) by generating more traffic on the sites and by implementing digital programmatic systems. Online video provided an additional impetus, playing a more substantial role in both classical campaigns and digital-content stories.

Digital classifieds brands (classified advertisements) Jobat, Vroom, Hebbes and Zimmo, as well as the Made in business platform, achieved excellent growth in 2016 (+ 14 per cent). Jobat had a particularly strong year, realising growth of 20 per cent in digital and an increase of 11 per cent in print. In the Netherlands, turnover of NRC’s classifieds remained stable.

Quality journalism
An unconditional belief in independent quality journalism is a cornerstone of Mediahuis. In 2016 this translated into a number of notable journalistic achievements.

  • “Based on ambitiously conceived crowdsourcing projects, NRC approached thousands of readers about euthanasia practices in the Netherlands, forcing the healthcare sector to be more transparent about costs.”
    Peter Vandermeersch, Editor in Chief, NRC Handelsblad
  • “With its ‘Grote Gemeentetest’ (Big Municipal Test) Het Nieuwsblad carried out its biggest regional project ever. In involved 10 tests in all 308 Flemish municipalities, with the focus on services. Not only did this result in 30 municipalities being praised as a “Strong Municipality”, it stimulated relevant debate in municipal councils and instigated concrete initiatives to improve services.”
    Liesbeth Van Impe, Editor in Chief, Het Nieuwsblad
  • “A month after the 22/03 attacks in the Brussels subway and in Zaventem Airport, a team of 15 journalists from De Standaard and Le Soir interviewed 70 witnesses. Long before the parliamentary enquiry, we spoke to police chiefs, ministers, doctors, soldiers, ambulance personnel and, of course, the people who survived the attacks. We wanted to establish the facts as accurately as possible. How did these attacks happen? In all its sobriety, it was a moving document, enriched both textually and digitally. Thirty-two people perished in the attacks. Together with relatives, whose permission was obtained, we told their stories, every day for a month.”
    Karel Verhoeven, Editor in Chief, De Standaard
  • “Quality regional journalism is our mission. In the series ‘Turnhoutsebaan’ we presented a very exceptional and diverse district of Antwerp, in all its facets.”
    Kris Vanmarsenille, Editor in Chief, Gazet van Antwerpen
  • “The role played by Het Belang van Limburg concerning subsidy dossiers for the cultural sector proved how even a regional newspaper can influence what happens at national level. The substantiated dossiers themselves, along with discussions and forums between the various stakeholders that the newspaper organised for a whole month, led to greater citizen participation and the reversal of the offending policy. The exposure also received a follow-up in the Belgian Parliament, with the responsible minister agreeing to free additional funding for Limburg and other Flemish provinces.”
    Indra Dewitte, Editor in Chief, Het Belang van Limburg

Leading multimedia company
Mediahuis has decided to expand its activities in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2017. In the Netherlands, the company has won the approval of the ACM competition commission to acquire Media Groep Limburg, the publisher of De Limburger, thus making Mediahuis the third-largest publisher in the Netherlands. By introducing four regional TV stations and with participations in radio Nostalgie and De Vijver Media (the Belgian national TV stations, Four, Five and Six and the Woestijnvis production company), the group has taken a huge step in multimedia terms. After this planned expansion, Mediahuis will have approximately 2,000 employees, a turnover of over €530 million and a REBITDA of over €85 million. A third of this revenue will be generated in the Netherlands. The various Mediahuis news brands will account for daily circulation sales of over 900,000 newspapers and an online reach of two million unique digital news consumers every day.

At the close of 2016, Mediahuis announced its interest in acquiring Telegraaf Media Group (TMG), together with VP Exploitatie, the largest shareholder in TMG. The objective is to become a leading multimedia company that can also, in the long-term, play a leading role in a greatly changed Dutch-Belgian media landscape.

Gert Ysebaert: ”We want to make the best products every day and we want to keep growing in Belgium and the Netherlands – in both a digital and multimedia context. The bar has been set high, but at Mediahuis we have what it takes to realise these ambitions, namely a sound financial base and competent people who can make all the difference. In tandem with the growth of the company, we are also investing the greatest care in the personal growth of all our employees. This is being done through De Academie, Mediahuis’ internal training platform, and by giving people all the space they need to develop their talent and creativity to the full.”

Key financial figures (pro forma under IFRS consolidated results)

In millions of euros 2016 2015 Evolution
Turnover (normalised)(*)  398,5  398,3  +0,1%
REBITDA  64,0  61,6  +3,9%
REBITDA (Margin)  16,1%  15,5%
EBIT  39,5  35,6  +11,0%
Net Result  21,7  19,6  +10,7%

(*) excluding media barters

These results have permitted Mediahuis to raise its investments in digital and audio-visual innovation while, at the same time, improving its financial solidity. Mediahuis’ net bank debt fell from €70 million on 31 December 2015 to €45 million on 31 December 2016.