Bids for INM’s African assets prepared

Three well-developed bids are expected to be formally tabled for Independent News & Media’s South African assets in the first half of next month, although no sale of the business is anticipated until the new year.

While INM did not comment on matters over the weekend, an industry source suggested INM seemed to be making “encouraging” progress on selling the asset and that any deal — while unlikely to fetch the figure of €250m bandied about earlier this year — could go a long way in helping INM’s management restructure its debt with its lenders.

The South African assets include titles such as the Pretoria Times, The Cape Times, and the country’s largest property website. While management has only relatively recently spoken about the sale, a disposal of the South African operations have been speculated upon since early summer.

On Friday, INM said via its latest interim management statement that “urgent and substantial” restructuring would be needed to tackle its debt levels.

Subsequent reporting over the weekend suggested that management is about to ask its lenders to write off as much as €100m of its near-€430m debt mountain.

INM’s lenders include Irish institutions such as Bank of Ireland, AIB, and Ulster Bank, as well as the likes of Lloyds, Barclays, KBC, BNP Paribas, and Australian-based group ANZ.

Last week’s trading update showed that, in euro terms, INM’s total group revenues, for the year to date are down by over 4%, with ad revenue down by over 7%. It said trading conditions have remained “challenging” due to the difficult economic backdrop in Ireland and South Africa.

“Against this continued backdrop, and the group’s significant level of debt, the need for substantial and urgent restructuring is evident,” management further stated.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

More in this Section

Michael Noonan keeping his options open on AIB sale

State’s Data Protection Commissioner’s Office and US authorities to probe Yahoo breach

Oil price falls 3% ahead of key OPEC meeting

Societe Generale rogue trader Jerome Kerviel sees fine slashed by French court


Breaking Stories

Apple said to be considering its first retail store in Seoul, right next to Samsung's HQ

Snapchat's new sunglasses will make sure nothing is left unrecorded

The Watch Dogs 2 story trailer sends you into the world of hackers

UPS have started trialling drone deliveries

Lifestyle

London Design Festival will inspire your next interiors project

Be inspired by this award-winning Galway home

The top 6 trends for S/S 2017 from London Fashion Week

Tempting recipes from Paula Lambert’s cookbook Cheese Glorious Cheese

More From The Irish Examiner