BSkyB profit soars

 
City A.M. Reporter
Strong demand for broadband lifted first-half profits at bid target BSkyB by 26 per cent, increasing the pressure on Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to secure its takeover deal without delay.

News Corp has offered to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own but it faces a six month competition probe if it cannot allay fears that it will give too much control over public opinion to Murdoch.

In the meantime BSkyB, as one of the most successful pay-TV groups in Europe, is adding new customers at a heady rate and selling them an increasing number of products, while reaping the benefits from an investment cycle and cost saving programmes.

On Thursday it reported first-half adjusted operating profit of £520m, compared with a Reuters poll forecasting £500m, and revenues up 15 per cent to £3.2bn, also slightly ahead of forecasts.

In the three months to the end of December, it added 140,000 net new subscribers, towards the lower end of forecasts, as it passed the 10m customer mark, and sold 343,000 new high-definition TV packages and 204,000 broadband packages.

It set an interim dividend up 11 percent to 8.74 pence.