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Centaur publishes trading update

Centaur Media plc, an international provider of business information and specialist consultancy, has provided a further update on how its business is trading during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centaur publishes trading update

The statement from Centaur Media:

Since updating the market on 8 April, the Group has taken a number of actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on its business, to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers, and to ensure its long-term financial security.

The Board has been encouraged by the performance of a number of its brands. The Mini- MBA, our flagship accredited e-learning programme, has enjoyed strong demand for its online courses, Econsultancy and Xeim Labs have won some valuable contracts, and corporate subscription renewals at The Lawyer remain healthy.

However, as we approach the second half of the financial year, the Group faces two COVID-19 challenges. First, MarketMakers, our lead generation and telesales operation, has experienced a sharp fall in revenue as a number of its clients have experienced disruption to their own businesses. Capacity was reduced quickly through the furloughing of approximately half of MarketMakers’ staff, and decisive action has been taken to cut other costs. This is a low margin operation and the business is expected to continue at a significantly lower level of activity for the foreseeable future.

Second, whilst we are still planning to run our flagship events, The Festival of Marketing, The Lawyer Awards and The Lawyer General Counsel Summit in the second half of this year, these may be affected by extended requirements for social distancing. To ensure that our content can be delivered effectively and reliably to our audiences, we are incorporating enhanced digital delivery to supplement or replace physical activities. At this stage it is difficult to forecast the impact these decisions may have on Centaur’s profitability in the second half of the financial year.

Cash, balance sheet and dividend

In order to conserve cash, management continues to take a rigorous approach to all costs and is implementing a reduction in board and senior management remuneration.

In addition, the Company holds an undrawn banking facility of £25 million and Centaur’s management has held positive discussions with its banks with regard to amendment of its facility covenants, if required.

The Board has a progressive dividend policy which recognises the importance to our shareholders of the dividend as part of their overall return. However, as described above, the uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 outbreak means that we are focused on minimising cash outflows and strengthening our financial position in the short term. As such, the Board believes it is prudent not to pay the final dividend of 0.5p per share proposed at the time of its 2019 results announcement on 18 March 2020. The Board will keep the situation under review and will determine the timing for resumption of dividends once the market situation and the effect of COVID-19 on Centaur’s business and its cashflow have become clearer.

AGM

Due to the current UK Government guidance on social distancing and prohibition on non- essential travel and public gatherings, the Board regrets that it will not be possible for shareholders to attend this year’s AGM on 30 June 2020 in person. Further details are set out in the Notice of AGM that will be posted to shareholders with a Form of Proxy and the 2019 Annual Report on 28 May 2020.