Wednesday 11 December 2019

INM confirms it has no plans to sell APN stake

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Getty Images

Thomas Molloy

AUSTRALIAN media company APN News & Media told shareholders that Dublin-based Independent News & Media has no plans to sell its 30pc stake in the media company.

Acting chairman Ted Harris told shareholders that INM chief executive Vincent Crowley reaffirmed this week that the Irish company had no plans to sell its stake. Shares in APN and INM rose following the news.

APN chief executive Brett Chenoweth told the company's annual meeting in Sydney that the company has hired Deutsche Bank to carry out a strategic review of its New Zealand assets while it continues to revamp existing operations and cut costs.

APN has been approached about potential sales of some titles or about forming potential partnerships.

"We've met a number of parties (and) had quite a few approaches but I don't want to go into any details," Mr Chenoweth told shareholders.

He added that he would provide an update when results are published in August.

The Australian group publishes 'The New Zealand Herald' and also owns seven regional dailies on the two islands along with more than 40 regional titles, eight magazines and printing businesses.

The company predicted this year's interim net profit before exceptional items would be about $3m (€2.35m) behind last year. In 2011, it posted a loss after exceptional items of $45m after impairment charges of $159m, most of which came from its New Zealand newspapers, with the business struggling to rebuild from last year's Christchurch earthquake.

Mr Harris said he would not rule out more writedowns, with New Zealand trading conditions in the first quarter of 2012 continuing to be "exceedingly tough" after the uptick in activity around October's Rugby World Cup quickly faded.

The company said Australian advertisers remained "very cautious" but reported strong trading from its outdoor advertising division and a solid performance at its radio operations, Australian Radio Network and New Zealand's The Radio Network.

On Tuesday, APN completed the sale of half its APN Outdoor into a joint venture with Quadrant Private Equity, with most of the cash from the deal earmarked to pay off debt and the rest to be invested in the business and other growth areas, particularly digital.

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