Wednesday 21 February 2018

INM Group agrees deal to buy Irish-owned regional newspapers

The deal will see INM add seven regional newspapers to the group’s existing portfolio
The deal will see INM add seven regional newspapers to the group’s existing portfolio

Donal O’Donovan

Independent News & Media (INM) has agreed a deal to buy newspaper publisher Celtic Media Group (CMG) – adding seven newspapers to its chain of regional titles.

Celtic Media’s printing business is not part of the transaction.

The deal will see INM add seven regional newspapers including the ‘Anglo Celt’ in Cavan, the ‘Meath Chronicle’ and the ‘Connaught Telegraph’, as well as a pre-press service to the group’s existing portfolio of regional print and digital titles.

Celtic Media Group is owned and managed by its Irish management team – following a management buyout of the company in June 2012 for a reported €5.5m.

Celtic Media employs around 100 staff and is headed up by former Irish Independent business editor Frank Mulrennan.

It is understood that Frank Mulrennan will be joining INM as part of the transaction.

The deal adds five new counties to INM Group’s spread of regional newspapers.

INM’s existing regional newspapers include ‘The Herald’ in Dublin, ‘The Kerryman’, ‘The Sligo Champion’ and ‘Wexford People’.

“We are very pleased that Celtic Media Group’s publishing titles are becoming part of INM’s portfolio of regional and digital titles. There are clear synergies arising from this transaction, which fit well with INM’s strategy to remain as a key player in the delivery of printed news content on a national and regional basis,” said Robert Pitt, CEO, INM. 

“We look forward to welcoming the titles into the INM fold and to working with management and editorial to ensure the continued successful delivery of quality local newspapers.”

Mr Pitt has previously said consolidation was needed in the national print sector to secure the viability of newspapers in the teeth of falling print circulation and a challenging advertising environment. 

“It is a clear objective of INM to support and strengthen its offering of national and regional newspapers and consolidation, as exemplified by this transaction, is the optimum way to protect the Group’s titles into the future,” he said.

The deal announced yesterday is subject to approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The value of the transaction was not publicly disclosed. 

Last week INM reported a profit before tax of €18.5m for the six months to the end of June 2016.

The company’s cash balance at the end of June was €62.4m.

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