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Peter Costello steps into chair at Nine

Business

Nine Entertainment has appointed former treasurer Peter Costello as chairman ahead of what are expected to be sweeping changes to media regulation.

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The media group posted a 6.1 per cent drop in underlying first-half profit on Thursday and announced the former Howard government minister would replace David Haslingden on March 1.

“This is an exciting time of change in the media sector and NEC is now strongly positioned to take advantage of these developments,” Costello said in a statement on Thursday.

Underlying net profit for the six months to December was $78.4 million on revenues that declined 6.0 per cent on the prior corresponding period.

That excluded the impact of the Nine Live events business, the sale of which to a private equity group was completed in July.

Statutory net profit including proceeds from the sale of Nine Live was $320.8 million, three-and-a-half times more than $91.0 million a year earlier.

Chief executive Hugh Marks called the performance a solid result in a challenging advertising market, flagging a five per cent drop in costs across the group.

The Nine Network showed an 8.6 per cent decline in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, although costs decreased by $23.5 million despite broadcasting the Rugby World Cup and Ashes series.

Nine said it expects the metropolitan free-to-air market to be flat or marginally down over the full year, with its market share dropping to about 38 per cent.

FIRST HALF NINE NUMBERS

* Net profit up 352pct to $320mn

* Underlying net profit down 6.1pct to $78.4mn

* Revenue down 6.0 per cent to $692.2mn

* Interim dividend 8.0 cents fully franked, up from an unfranked 4.2 cents

AAP

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