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Media

RTL Group posts less profit, but raises dividends

Europe's largest private television group, RTL, has seen its net profit contract on the back of a major writedown on its business in Spain. But its operations in Germany are strong enough to grant higher dividends.

European private television giant RTL conceded on Monday it was not able to keep up its 2011 business momentum last year, but said it did fairly well in the face of a protracted eurozone sovereign debt crisis and an unfavorable market environment particularly in the bloc's southern member countries.

RTL Group reported a 13.2-percent dip in net profit for 2012 to an annual bottom-line of 690 million euros ($911 million). The Luxembourg-based company said the main reason for its shrinking net earnings last year was a 72-million-euro writedown on its involvement in Spain's Grupo Antena 3.

RTL's 2012 revenues soared by 4 percent to six billion euros due to particularly strong business in its biggest market, Germany, and the successful operations of its production subsidiary Freemantle.

Good deal for shareholders

RTL's administrative council announced it would declare dividends to the tune of 1.6 billion euros this year, made up of an ordinary dividend of 5.10 euros per share and a one-off dividend of 5.40 euros on top of that.

The media group indicated that it would in future pay out dividends equaling between 50 and 75 percent of adjusted annual net earnings.

In January, RTL's biggest shareholder, Germany's Bertelsmann Group said it was contemplating selling part of it 92-percent stake in the media company, but added its stake would not drop below 75 percent, with a decision unlikely to be made before Bertelsmann's annual earnings report on March 26.

hg /rc (dpa, Reuters)