NEWS16 November 2010

Photon Group ‘in line’ with 2009 trading, merges TLE and Auspoll

Asia Pacific Financials

AUSTRALIA— Beleaguered marketing services group Photon, which owns research agency The Leading Edge, has said it is trading “in line” with last year’s performance as of the end of October.

Net revenue for the July–October period was $126.3m – slightly behind last year’s figure of $127.7m – while earnings before interest, tax and other deductibles (EBITDA) was $22.3m compared to $22.6m in 2009.

The group singled out The Leading Edge (TLE) as one of its poorer performers during the first four months of its financial year, alongside communications planning specialist Naked. The “lower results” posted by these two businesses pushed revenue in Photon’s international and search marketing division down 6% and EBITDA down 36%. Excluding TLE and Naked, division revenue would have been up 9% and EBITDA up 5%.

Photon said that the two agencies “remain very strong franchises” and that “a number of factors”, including uncertainty over the group’s recapitalisation, had contributed to lower financial results. The group set about raising additional funds this summer when it was unable to meet $176m-worth of earn-out commitments to the owners of agencies it had acquired.

A restructuring has accompanied the recapitalisation plans and Photon said in its results that it had merged TLE with its social research agency Auspoll. Previously the group merged strategy agency Bellamyhayden with Naked.

Photon is led by CEO Jeremy Philips (pictured).