LUXEMBOURG: Metro International, publisher of 64 free newspapers in 91 major cities in nineteen countries, achieved a 16% rise in ad sales in its second quarter, despite some advertisers reducing expenditure during the soccer World Cup tournament.

The company registered a Q2 operating profit of $12.3 million (€9.74m; £6.66m) compared with $2.7m a year ago, while eleven of its eighteen subsidiary or associated companies operated in the black during the three months to June 30.

In the first half of 2006 Metro also saw net sales grow 16% year on year at constant exchange rates, while total operating profit stood at $2.6m, compared with a loss of $13.7m in the same period in 2005.