Antony Catalano acquires Nine's regional media and printing business

30 April 2019, Written by David Simmons

Antony Catalano acquires Nine's regional media and printing business

Antony Catalano, the former CEO of Domain, has acquired Nine's (ASX: NEC) Australian Community Media ('ACM') and printing business for $115 million.

The cash proceeds of the sale are expected to be around $115 million, subject to post completion adjustments of which $10 million will be paid in 12 months. Nine expects to use these finds to reduce group indebtedness.

Additionally, Nine will receive up to $10 million of advertising on ACM properties over the three years from completion.

The sale includes over 160 publications including The Newcastle Herald, The Canberra Times, The Examiner, The Border Mail, The Courier, and Illawarra Mercury.

ACM also has around 130 community based-websites including agricultural publications like The Land, Queensland Country Life, and Stock and Land.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks says this will allow the company to focus on key priorities.

"The sale of ACM is aligned with our strategy to exit non-core businesses and to focus on Nine's portfolio of high-growth, digital assets," says Marks.

"We will retain a commercial relationship with ACM and look forward to continuing to work with the business in areas where there are mutual benefits to both Nine and ACM."

Nine Entertainment has confirmed commercial relationships between the community media publications and Nine's premier mastheads (The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Australian Financial Review) will stay in place.

This includes the sharing of content between Australian Community Media and Printing publications and the metropolitan publications, which would remain in place for a "transitional period".

These nearly 300 mastheads came under control of Nine Entertainment following its widely publicised $4 billion merger with Fairfax Media.

The merger of the two Australian media giants brought the total number of major players in Australia down from five to four.

Following the merger, the new entity became comprised of the Nine network, the Herald, the Age, the Australian Financial Review, a majority stake in property giant Domain, streaming service Stan and a 54.5% shareholding in radio network Macquarie Media, home of Sydney's 2GB and Melbourne's 3AW.

The new owner of the massive portfolio of community papers and websites Antony Catalano tried to stop the merger of Nine and Fairfax in its tracks at the last minute.

After attempting to buy 20 per cent of voting power in Fairfax to try and block the merger vote Catalano said he would mount a court challenge to stop the merger.

On the day before the shareholder vote, Catalano launched a dramatic bid to stall the merger by revealing he had individual backers who were prepared to buy a 20 percent stake in Fairfax, worth around $300 million, with a plan to implement a range of asset sales to deliver value to shareholders.

The Fairfax board rejected the approach.

Catalano resigned from his position of CEO at Domain just two months after the company listed on the ASX, saying the role would inhibit the amount of time he could spend with his family.

More recently Catalano became an executive director at media buyer Tomorrow Agency. The company provides advertising programs for property developers and buys media placement with advertising channels like Domain and REA Group.

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Business News Australia

Author: David Simmons





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