INM sells shares in Australian operation for €115m

INM sells shares in Australian operation for €115m

Independent News and Media, which owns the Irish Independent, has announced the sale of its shares in Australian media group APN.

INM said it has made an agreement with the Australian branch of Credit Suisse to sell its 191,541,073 shares – which amounts to 18.6% of APN's entire share capital.

The shares will be sold at AUD $0.88 each - 6.4% less than the closing price yesterday – netting INM about €121.3 million. The company said it expects the net cash proceeds after costs to be around €115m.

The company said the cash would be used to repay debts, which total €115.5m. The company said this would free INM's credit to potentially make new acquisitions or investments.

APN is an outdoor advertising and news media company in Australia and New Zealand, operating several radio stations including New Zealand's Newstalk ZB and Australia's KIIS.

The group also runs 100 newspapers and 50 websites, including The New Zealand Herald.

News of INM's sale of shares to Credit Suisse follows hours after reports that NewsCorp, media mogul's Rupert Murdoch company, was buying extra shares in APN.

The media giant is reportedly looking to increase its shareholding to 14.99% - the maximum permitted under Australian law without a takeover bid.

It is believed News Corp is spending about AUD $145m (€104m) on the shares.

Commenting on today's announcement, Chief executive Officer of INM Robert Pitt said: "This is an appropriate time for INM to realise the value of its investment, thereby enabling the INM Group to repay all of its indebtedness and focus on its island of Ireland business strategy."

The sale will take place in two parts, beginning on March 25.

— Dave Molloy

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