Sunday 18 March 2018

Business Post deal went to the wire

Paul Cooke
Paul Cooke

Tom Lyons

A plan to place the Sunday Business Post into liquidation was within hours of being triggered before a consortium to acquire the paper finally tabled a bid.

In frantic behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings, Conor Killeen's Key Capital withdrew from the race mid-last week before returning on the final day with the winning bid of €750,000, along with former former Star executive Paul Cooke.

Former INM executive Michael Brophy was involved in this group until Thursday. At that point, Cooke told Brophy he was no longer required for the bid after an unnamed backer raised objections.

Meanwhile, a US businessman had teamed up with the Irish Times to make a joint bid for the paper. This is believed to have fallen down after the US businessman asked the Irish Times for a commitment to buy the paper in five years.

Frank Cronin, former Newstalk CEO, was the underbidder for the paper with the support of two New York investors. Cronin's proposal was considered less attractive than the Key/Cooke proposal after both were reviewed by Grant Thornton, the paper's examiner. Talks went so close to the wire that GT had begun to prepare for a potential liquidation.

Under the Key/Cooke offer, staff will be given 6 per cent of the company. They were also asked to sign a letter confirming they would only be entitled to statutory redundancy in the future. The Post employs 74 people but this is expected to be reduced to under 50 over time.

Irish Independent

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