24 October 2014

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Publisher halts dividends over possible £13m tax bill

A regional publisher which is facing a possible £13m tax bill has suspended dividend payments to shareholders, its annual general meeting was told.

Archant revealed last month that it had made provision in its 2012 accounts for a possible payment to HM Revenue and Customs relating to corporation tax and interest dating back to 2003, following a recent court ruling involving another media company.

The company’s AGM was held last week and those who attended were told that the company had decided to suspend payment of its final dividend for the year and future dividends, until the outcome of the tax dispute is known.

The meeting was held after last month’s preliminary statement for the year saw Archant’s profits fall from £10.4m in 2011 to £6.3m last year.

At the AGM in Norwich, which was attended by 120 people, Archant chief executive Adrian Jeakings said that trading had not got any easier in 2013 but digital revenues were nearly 22pc higher for the first quarter compared to last year.

He said: “Looking forwards it is clear that the UK economy remains fragile and there is still considerable uncertainty.

“In consequence we must drive any improvements in the performance of the group through our own endeavours. We cannot count on the economy to help us.

“Underlying trading has not got any easier in 2013 but we are seeing the benefit of our investments, particularly in digital where first quarter revenue was nearly 22pc higher than last year and local display advertising where we have growth in many areas, and we continue to out-perform our peer companies.

“As you would expect, costs and cash remain closely managed and I am delighted to report that at the end of the first quarter operating profit was on budget and significantly ahead of last year.”

Archant chairman Richard Jewson added: “Archant faces a time of considerable challenge, in common with the regional media generally, as it continues to transform its business model.

“But its board remains confident in the ability of the business to adapt to the continuously changing environment in which it operates.”

2 Comments

  1. Rob

    I must have missed the story so am asking now, who resigned over this?

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  2. tide-timez

    Let me see if I’ve got this right…Archant provided in its 2012 accounts for a possible payment to HMRC; now it awaits the outcome of a tax dispute over a not inconsiderable £13m, dating back 10 years. Who audits the accounts of these clowns? Something stinks to high heaven.

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