Thursday 23 November 2017

INM and Celtic Media walk away from takeover

Communications Minister Denis Naughten
Communications Minister Denis Naughten
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Independent News & Media's (INM's) planned €4m takeover of regional newspaper publisher Celtic Media has been terminated by mutual consent.

The two companies confirmed that they have walked away from the planned takeover in a joint statement issued last night.

"Following discussions, INM and Celtic Media Newspapers Limited have taken a view to move forward on a separate footing," the statement said.

Minister for Communication Denis Naughten, who had been examining the planned deal, has been informed, the statement said.

The minister was due to make his determination on whether the deal could go ahead by Thursday next. The deal has been in the works since September last year. No reason was given for the decision to terminate the takeover. The transaction was subject to approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the minister, because it would have increased INM's portfolio of regional newspaper titles from 13 to 20.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) had asked the Competition Commission to block the deal. The Commission cleared the deal last November.

Last January the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) was asked to conduct a "phase two" media merger examination of the proposed deal and produce a report with recommendations. That report went to the minister on May 9 last. Celtic Media publishes the 'Westmeath Independent', 'Westmeath Examiner', 'Anglo Celt', 'Meath Chronicle' and 'Connaught Telegraph', and free titles the 'Offaly Independent' and 'Your Forum'.

It employs 98 workers - but according to CEO Frank Mulrennan faces serious challenges, like other traditional media titles.

Last February he said that the business was already being forced to sell its offices in Cavan to pay a bridging loan because of the delay in the proposed merger.

INM is the country's leading media business, with national titles including the Irish Independent and 'Sunday Independent', and among its print and digital assets.

Irish Independent

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