Media shares plunge in worst day for markets since 9/11

United Business Media, Pearson and SMG were among the worst-hit British media companies in yesterday’s global stock market plunge.

The slump, which wiped £77bn from the FTSE100 index of the UK’s top companies, the worst since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

Media shares performed slightly better than the rest of the market, with an average price drop yesterday of 3.5 per cent. The FTSE all-share index fell by more than five per cent.

The biggest losers

United Business Media, which owns Publican and Building publisher CMP Information, saw shares slide 5.7 per cent, down 29.5p to 484p. The decline brings UBM’s shares below the £5 mark for the first time since Summer 2006.

SMG, which owns STV, posted a 4.9 per cent fall in its share value yesterday, down 0.75p to 14.5p. This was despite newspaper reports over the weekend that SMG was looking to dispose of some its non-core assets, including national radio station Virgin Radio.

Britain’s biggest comercial radio group, GCap Media, slumped more than five per cent to 181.75p.

Pearson, which this morning issued an upbeat trading update forecasting record profits, had slumped 4.2 per cent by the close of trade yesterday, down 27.5p to 620.5p.

Declines across the board

Other media companies to post significant drops in their share price included ITV (down 3.7 per cent to 70.2p), Reed Elsevier (down 3.9 per cent to 585.5p) and Reuters (down 3.6 per cent to 565p).

BSkyB shares closed yesterday down 3.5 per cent – a fall of 17.5p. Last night’s 506p share price is a significant drop compared with the 700p mark where BSkyB shares were trading towards the end of last year.

Daily Mail and General Trust fell 2.25p to 457.75p. Trinity Mirror lost 4.25p (or 1.3 per cent) with a closing price of 304.5p.

B2B magazine publisher Centaur only saw a marginal drop. Its shares were down 0.75p to 89.25p – a decline of less than one per cent.

Future Publishing was down 1.3 per cent – or half a penny – to 37p. Wilmington, which publishes Press Gazette, saw a 2.7 per cent drop, down 5.5p to 197.5p.

Emap, whose shareholders are due to vote on Friday about selling its consumer magazines and radio division to Bauer, was down 4p to 908p.

Not all bad news

However, it was not all doom and gloom in the media sector. Johnston Press posted an 11.25p increase in its share price, up almost five per cent to 242.25p. TalkSport owner UTV was up a quarter of a penny to 227.25p.

Wall Street was closed yesterday for Martin Luther King Day. The effect on US media stocks including News Corp and Gannett will become apparent when the New York stock exchange reopens this morning.

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