UPDATE 1-Kenya’s Nation Media Group reports 21% fall in 2019 profit

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NAIROBI, April 20 (Reuters) – Nation Media Group posted a 20.7% fall in 2019 pretax profit, hurt by a softer economy and problems among key advertisers, Kenya’s biggest news publisher said on Monday.

The publisher of the Daily Nation newspaper among other leading titles and operator of broadcast stations said pretax profit fell to 1.3 billion shillings ($12.2 million).

The government cancelled the licences of online sports betting companies in the middle of last year, citing concerns about the social impact of widespread gambling, cutting off a key source of advertising revenue for media companies.

Nation Media, which also operates in neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, said there would be no final dividend but instead offered investors a bonus share issue of one for every 10 held.

The interim dividend of 1.50 shillings per share, which had been issued earlier, will become the total dividend for the year, down from 5.00 shillings per share a year earlier.

The company will invest some of its cash reserves to develop new revenue streams from digital media, it said, as scope for growth in its print business narrows, and as it seeks to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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