PRAGUE, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) reported a 34 percent rise in third-quarter core profit, beating expectations in a typically weaker period as advertising revenues maintained strong growth.
CME, active in six central and eastern European markets although it is exiting Croatia and Slovenia, has sought to cut a debt pile of $1 billion in recent years through financing deals with its main shareholder, U.S. media group Time Warner, which merged with AT&T this year.
CME said on Thursday it had repaid more than $300 million this year through September and cut its net leverage ratio to 3.8 times. Further reduction will help lower borrowing costs.
"Given the progress that has already been made in reducing debt and the relatively low borrowing costs that we are already enjoying, this should allow us to delever to an appropriate level in the near term, and provides additional opportunities to improve shareholder returns beyond that," co-Chief Executive Michael Del Nin said in a statement.
Revenue rose 3 percent in the quarter to $123.5 million, led by its two biggest markets of the Czech Republic and Romania.
Core operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) rose to $33.6 million, above the average estimate of $29.3 million in a Reuters poll. (Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Mark Potter)