Sunday Business Post put up for sale in bid to flush out media consolidators
A sale process launched to find buyers for the 'Sunday Business Post' newspaper and Webprint, its sister printing business, is understood to be aimed at flushing out "shy" consolidators.
Majority owner Key Capital, headed by chairman Conor Kileen, confirmed that it has appointed BDO Corporate Finance to examine strategic options for Sunrise Media, which manages the two assets, including the sale of all or part of the business.
Financial investor Key Capital bought the 'Sunday Business Post' out of examinership in 2013, paying €750,000 for the business in the distressed sale, with a commitment to invest another €250,000. Further investment of around €250,000 is understood to have gone into turning around the newspaper.
Two years later Key Capital took control of Cork-based Webprint Concepts, buying its loans from US fund Cerberus. Webprint had the contract to print the 'Sunday Business Post' and the companies were merged to form Sunrise Media.
Key Capital said the decision to appoint sale advisors came after it received an approach in relation to Sunrise Media.
It is understood timing of the latest move was also prompted after Key Capital failed to gain traction for a possible bid for the 'Irish Examiner' newspaper. A deal was seen as a potential route to Sunrise becoming a consolidator in the sector.
Instead the public sale process is designed to flush out other potential consolidators.
That could include the 'Irish Times', which is close to a deal to buy the 'Examiner'.
Any media merger would require regulatory consent - a fact that delayed and ultimately stymied Independent News & Media's attempt to buy regional publisher Celtic Media in the past year.
Sources insist Sunrise Media is trading profitably, though Key Capital has yet to make good on its initial investments into the business, and is now targeting an exit as an opportunity to book a return.