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O'Reilly's Independent boosted by southern hemisphere

LONDON - Sir Anthony O'Reilly's Independent News & Media has been boosted by a strong ad performance down under as revenues and circulation figures are ahead of 2002.

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The group, which owns The Independent and Independent on Sunday in the UK, said it was experiencing "a progressive enhancement in advertising volumes and rate, with particular advertising strength in each of our southern hemisphere operations".

When Independent News & Media published its full-year results earlier this year, it reported advertising revenue down by 8% in the UK, hitting its troubled Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers, as pre-tax profits for 2002 rose by 8% to €129m (£89.2m).

Overall, INM saw a fall around the world in newspaper advertising revenue of 3.2% in real terms, but across the group there was a 20% rise in operating profits.

INM has operations in Australia and New Zealand, where it publishes Australian Business Review and the New Zealand Herald, as well as in South Africa, Ireland and the UK.

In addition, it said that circulation revenues throughout the world continued to show good advances on 2002, reflecting the impact of cover price increases on the prior year, with increases in market share being achieved.

Looking to the future, INM said that, following further revenue improvements in the second quarter, advertising visibility is improving and circulation revenues remain buoyant.

"Assuming a mere continuation of current trading, the group's uniquely strong brands, leading market positions, geographic diversity and greatly fortified balance sheet leaves INM well positioned to deliver a meaningful improvement in earnings for 2003, in line with market consensus forecasts," it said in a statement.

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