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Four contenders interested in 'Business Post'

FOUR serious contenders have come forward offering to invest in the 'Sunday Business Post' which is in examinership, the Commercial Court heard yesterday.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told of 11 written expressions of interest initially, but there are now four serious contenders who have indicated they are prepared to invest and have provided proof of funds.

The judge yesterday granted an application by the examiner Michael McAteer to extend the time of the protection of the court to May 15 next to allow for the investment offers to be examined and processed.

Counsel for the examiner, Rossa Fanning, said the extension of the protection of the court was sought up to May 15 which would be the seventieth day of the examinership.

Last month Mr Justice Kelly confirmed the appointment of Mr McAteer of Grant Thornton as examiner to the newspaper owners and publishers, Post Publications Ltd.

The court heard that as a result of the general economic decline, revenues at the newspaper fell from €15.6m in 2007 to €7.3m in 2012 – a 53pc drop.

Advertising was responsible for the majority of the drop having fallen by 68pc in the same period. Circulation figures for the 'Sunday Business Post' show that 40,000 copies are sold every weekend and it has a readership of 140,000.

Circulation revenue fell from €4.9m in 2007 to €3.69m last year. Management had introduced cost-saving measures including a substantial reduction in wages for its 76 full-time staff.

Mr Fanning yesterday said the extension sought was lengthy, but necessary. The examiner, in his progress report to the court, also said an agreement has been reached with Webprint, which continues to print the Sunday newspaper.

The landlord of the Harcourt Street offices in Dublin where the 'Sunday Business Post' is based, is also amenable to negotiation on rent price.

In the report, the examiner reiterated his view that the newspaper continued to have a reasonable prospect of survival and its cash-flow projections were now ahead of expectations.

Mr Justice Kelly said he was satisfied progress had been made and granted an extension of the examination period to May 15 with the proviso that if there was any change in the situation the examiner would return to court.

A creditors' meeting is to be held on May 3 at which a rescue plan may be presented.

Irish Independent