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Mediaset delivers upbeat outlook as operating profit soars

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·2-min read
The Mediaset headquarters is seen ahead of the commercial broadcaster's annual general meeting in Cologno Monzese
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MILAN (Reuters) - Mediaset's nine-month operating profit more than tripled year on year to exceed pre-pandemic levels, Italy's top commercial broadcaster said on Wednesday as it gave an upbeat outlook on advertising sales in its domestic market.

The TV group controlled by the family of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reiterated its forecast for a "marked strengthening" of earnings and net profit this year compared with the past two years.

Shares in the company were up 4.5% in morning trade, outperforming a little-changed Italian all-share index.

Mediaset said its October advertising sales in Italy were up 1% from pre-pandemic 2019 and that it now expects 2021 domestic advertising sales to rise by at least 1.2% from two years ago.

"The overall advertising outlook is positive and we are confident the last two months will not affect our progression," the company's advertising managing director, Matteo Cardani, told analysts in a conference call.

The company posted an operating profit of 275 million euros ($317.74 million) in the nine months to Sept. 30, compared with 87.6 million euros last year and 188.6 million euros in the same period of 2019.

Group revenue, including operations in Spain, rose to 1.99 billion euros in the first nine months of the year, from 1.72 billion euros in 2020.

Domestic sales, which account for more than two thirds of overall revenue, rose to 1.39 billion euros from 1.18 billion euros a year earlier.

The broadcaster has recently moved its legal headquarters to the Netherlands as part of its strategy to pursue tie-ups with rivals in Europe, seen as the answer to challenges posed by online giants such as Netflix and Google.

Mediaset finance chief Marco Giordani did not provide updates on the group's M&A plans ahead of a shareholder meeting this month to vote on a proposed dual-class share scheme that analysts have said could allow Berlusconi holding company Fininvest to structure future M&A deals without losing control of any combined entity.

Giordani did say that Mediaset remains a long-term investor in Germany's Prosiebensat.1 Media, in which it holds a 24% stake.

($1 = 0.8655 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Giulia Segreti, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and David Goodman)

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