Irish

Saturday 2 August 2014

Crosbies retain control of 'Irish Examiner' and most other titles as TCH goes in to receivership

Donal O'Donovan and Peter Flanagan

Published 07/03/2013|04:00

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The iconic Echo Boy statue on Cork’s St Patrick’s Street which replicates the old Evening Echo newspaper sellers

The 'Irish Examiner' has been sold after the dramatic collapse of the company behind the 173-year-old newspaper.

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The 'Irish Examiner' newspaper, the 'Evening Echo' and regional newspapers and radio stations that were part of Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) were bought yesterday by a new company controlled by newspaper executive Tom Crosbie, and backed by his father Ted.

They bought the assets after AIB appointed receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG to take control of Cork-based Thomas Crosbie Holdings.

That deal had been lined up in advance in a technique known as a pre-pack restructuring sale.

AIB said it appointed the receiver at the request of the company itself.

The receiver immediately agreed to sell the company's main assets including the 'Irish Examiner' to a new company, called Landmark Media Investments. The new group will be managed by current CEO Tom Murphy.

The complex restructuring deal has the effect of freeing the newspaper group from long-term printing contracts seen as undermining the viability of the entire group.

It also means that the main newspaper remain in the hands of members of the well-known Crosbie family, but most members of the extended family will no longer have any stake in the group.

The 'Irish Examiner', the 'Evening Echo', the 'Waterford News and Star', the 'Wexford Echo', the 'Carlow Nationalist', the 'Kildare Nationalist', the 'Laois Nationalist', the 'Western People' and the 'Roscommon Herald' have all been bought by the new owners.

As have radio stations WLR, Beat 102 fm and Red fm. Landmark has also bought websites RecruitIreland.ie and TCM.ie.

Staff at all of the TCH titles were told the news of the restructuring deal at a series of meetings yesterday.

AIB bank refused to say whether any of Thomas Crosbie Holdings' €28m of bank loans and overdrafts would be written off as a result.

The bank is in line for an immediate payout from the sum paid by Ted and Tom Crosbie for the 'Irish Examiner' and other assets. AIB is also bankrolling its acquisition, by extending new loans to the new management team.

The 'Irish Examiner' will be printed by 'The Irish Times' from today. Thomas Crosbie Printers Limited, which prints newspapers for the group, will be liquidated as part of the multi-faceted deal. That will result in the loss of 12 jobs.

More jobs are at risk. Some of the 554 people employed at the remaining TCH assets automatically transferred to the new company as a result of the sale.

Their contracts and redundancy packages are not affected by the sale, but it is understood that the new owners will review the business in the coming month and are expected to seek further job cuts on a voluntary basis.

The 76 jobs at the 'Sunday Business Post' are also at risk.

It is not in receivership but the directors of the 'Sunday Business Post' will separately apply to the courts for protection from their creditors today through a High Court application for examinership.

Irish Independent

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