INM says purchase of TV3 would be 'unlikely'
Independent News & Media (INM) has all but ruled out buying TV3, which has been put up for sale by its UK venture capital owner, Doughty Hanson.
A spokesman for INM, which owns titles including the 'Irish Independent', said that while the media group is in a position to size up acquisitions, any discussions with TV3 are "highly unlikely".
INM chairman Leslie Buckley said after the company's annual general meeting last week that the company is now in a position to invest in acquisitions.
In March, INM sold its near 19pc stake in Australian media group APN for just over €121m. The sale enabled INM to clear its debts in full and left it with cash of €30m. Only three years ago, INM's debt stood at €420m.
Coupled with that €30m in cash that INM now has available, it could increase its spending firepower to as much as €100m with additional banking facilities.
But while the group will be keeping an eye out for possible acquisitions, nothing is immediately on the horizon.
"INM is not looking at anyone in the media space at this time," said an INM spokesman. He added that the group is more interested in targeting possible future acquisitions in digital media or online business in Ireland, Britain or Europe.
INM has invested heavily in its digital offerings. Its website, Independent.ie, is the most popular news website in Ireland.
Doughty Hanson is likely to seek between €120m and €150m for TV3.
It acquired the television station in 2006 from owners ITV, Canada's Canwest, and a number of private investors. The station underwent a financial restructuring in 2013.
The channel is facing up to fresh competition from newcomer UTV Ireland, but is considered to have fared well since the launch of its rival, despite losing the rights to air hugely popular soaps such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
TV3's initiatives have included the debut of garda soap 'Red Rock', which gained an average of about 206,000 viewers per episode.
Mr Buckley has called for consolidation in the newspaper industry in areas such as distribution, IT and printing while maintaining editorial integrity, adding that newspapers are competing with other media such as online.