The pre-tax profits of the parent company to the Nation Newspaper and Starcom Network, tumbled by more than 50 per cent during the last financial year ending December 31, 2020.
In its audited consolidated financials for the year, One Caribbean Media (OCM), reported revenue of US$45.69 million (BDS$91.38 million). This was down from the US $54.33 (BDS $110.66 million) generated the previous year.
The region’s largest media group did not pay dividends to its shareholders last year, many of whom are Barbadians. And chairman, Faarees Hosein blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the group’s lacklustre performance.
The news also comes as Hosein sought an investigation last year by the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission into several share purchases on the stock exchange there which resulted in OCM’s share price suffering significant declines in value.
“All sales, with the exception of one block on May 5, were at a price lower than the purchase price,” he said in a statement then on the issue. There have been no public reports on the probe.
In his Chairman’s Statement that accompanied the financials, Hosein said: “The OCM Group’s performance was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures implemented regionally.”
However, the chairman said there were some encouraging performances by sections of the group, but not among the media companies it operates in the region.
“Some of our non-media interests such as Green Dot Limited (internet/cable services) and VL Limited (appliance distribution) were able to record profitability growth during the year,” he disclosed.
He added: “Group revenues of US$ 46 million declined by 16 per cent.” The Port-of-Spain-based company was originally formed in 2006 from a merger of the Nation Group in Barbados and the CCN group in Trinidad comprising the Express Newspaper and CCNTV6 of Trinidad and Tobago.
The chairman said OCM undertook restructuring of the group last year “to ensure that it was better aligned to the opportunities presented and able to operate more efficiently and cost effectively”.
During the period, the company severed many of its employees. The OCM chairman disclosed: “As a result of this restructuring exercise, a severance cost of US$0.9 million was incurred. Without these one-off costs, the decline in the Group’s net profits before tax and goodwill impairment would have been 43 per cent.
The media group’s goodwill impairment during the last financial year was US$1.7 million and it related to the company’s investment in the digital media business.
According to the chairman, the group took this action “out of an abundance of caution” due to the impact of the pandemic.
There was some better news for shareholders of the media group as the chairman said the Board “considered the market environment together with other relevant factors” and declared a dividend of TT$0.15 or BDS$0.05. That payment will be made in May 31. (IMC1)
Editor’s note: (The actual financial statement is quoted in TT dollars and US dollars)