Business World

Sunday 21 January 2018

INM calls for a further five APN directors to resign

Maeve Dineen

INDEPENDENT News & Media (INM) has called for the resignation of a further five board members of Australasian media group APN.

In a statement to the stock exchange last night, INM, which holds a 28.95pc shareholding in APN, called for the resignation of Peter Hunt, Melinda Conrad, John Harvey, John Maasland and Kevin Luscombe.

This comes just 24 hours after INM said it had "lost confidence" in, and was seeking the removal of, APN's chief executive, Brett Chenoweth.

INM said it wanted an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders to consider resolutions to remove the directors.

"If all resolutions are passed, INM would expect that the continuing directors would seek to identify and appoint additional independent directors who have the skills and commitment to contribute to the board's consideration of strategies and initiatives to restore value," the statement said.

The news came as APN's second biggest shareholder also threatened Mr Chenoweth's removal.

Fund manager Allan Gray is opposed to capital-raising plans by Mr Chenoweth and has warned that it would also remove any directors who came out in support of it. Allan Gray holds a 19pc stake in APN.

"We're absolutely opposed to the rights issue," said Simon Marais, managing director of Allan Gray. "If we have to spill the CEO and the board, we will."

APN said that the non-INM representative directors of APN unanimously supported Mr Chenoweth.

INM has formally advised APN of its views and is seeking an EGM to allow all APN shareholders to express their views on "this important matter".

INM called for Mr Chenoweth's resignation on Thursday evening, saying it had "lost confidence in his ability to implement the strategic initiatives necessary to reposition APN for the challenged media landscape that has emerged in Australasia".

Shares in APN were suspended yesterday after it said it was considering a capital raising and INM's statement calling for an EGM.

INM holds a 28.95pc shareholding in APN, which owns a host of radio stations and newspapers across Australia and New Zealand, including the 'New Zealand Herald'.

APN has struggled in recent months, with its share price plummeting by almost 90pc since May 2010.

In its most recent full-year results for 2011, earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) slipped 17pc to AUS$171m (€132m) and net profit after tax before exceptional items was down 24pc to AUS$78m.

Taking into account a non-cash impairment charge of AUS$159m that had been previously announced, costs associated with restructuring and other charges, the company reported a net loss after tax of AUS$45m.

APN also spun its outdoor advertising business last May into a joint venture with Quadrant Private Equity.

Irish Independent

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