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Family Business roundup: Growth for News Corp; big profit drops elsewhere

Revenue and profit figures for a number of big family businesses show parts of the global economy are still affected by weak demand, but News Corp posted a big profit rise.

Revenue and profit figures for a number of big family businesses show parts of the global economy are still affected by weak demand, but News Corp posted a big profit rise.

Bharti Airtel (2 May)
India-based telecommunications company Bharti Airtel had a difficult 2012 according to their full year results. Revenue increased 12% to Rs 803.1billion (€11.3 billion) but net profit fell 47% to Rs 22.8 billion – its lowest profit figure for seven years.

The company, controlled by the Mittal family (unrelated to the Mittals of ArcelorMittal), said operating expenditure had absorbed 47% of its revenue – a 17% increase on 2011's operating costs.

It also blamed the decrease on economic headwinds in Africa, a big market for Bharti, and said tax hikes further ate into profits.

In other news, the New Dehli company said it had raised $1.3 billion by selling just under 200 million new shares (a 5% stake) to the Qatar Foundation Endowment – a Qatar-based investment vehicle.

ArcelorMittal (10 May)
ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel manufacturer, posted sharp losses in quarter one of 2013 due to continuing weak steel demand.

Revenue fell 13% to $19.8 billion (€15.2 billion), and the company made a net loss of $345 million, compared with a profit of $92 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Exor (10 May)
In Italy, Exor – the holding company controlled by the Agnelli family – said net profit for the first-quarter of 2013 fell 31.5% to €51.1 million.

Exor said the decrease was due to a reduced share in revenues from its subsidiaries and lower dividends from its investments. It also invested €104.4 million in its share buyback programme during the period.

Quebecor (8 May)
Canadian media company Quebecor said first-quarter revenues were down 0.9% to Can$1.1 billion (€839.4 million) compared to the same period in 2012. Net income fell 50.1% to Can$35.6 million.

Quebecor said revenues were up 3.6% to Can$668.8 million in its telecommunications division, but said this was not enough to compensate for losses in its news divisions. 

Outgoing second-gen chief executive Pierre Karl Peladeau said in a statement: “In addition to intense competition from new media, traditional newspapers are also facing large reductions in advertising spending by local and national advertisers."

Maple Leaf Foods (2 May)
Elsewhere in Canada, Maple Leaf Foods – the food processing company controlled by the McCain family – reported a tough first quarter. Revenues fell 4.1% to Can$1.1 billion and the Toronto-based company incurred a net loss of Can$14.7 million, compared to losses of Can$5.8 million in the same period last year.

The company blamed lower sales volumes and costs incurred in developing a new supply network, but added that it expects results to improve in the coming months.

News Corporation (8 May)
In the US, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp said revenues increased 14% in the first quarter of 2013 to $9.5 billion.

It said over half of this increase was due to organic growth while the remainder was due to additional revenue from Sky Deutschland and Fox Sports Australia – News Corp increased its stake in both companies in the past year.

It had net profit of $2.85 billion compared to $937 million in the same period in 2012, helped by revenue growth from its business activities and the sale of its stake in Sky Network Television in New Zealand. 

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