Deal agreed for Sunday Business Post

Corporate finance firm Key Capital and former Irish Daily Star managing editor Paul Cooke have agreed a deal to buy the Sunday Business Post.

It is believed the pair hammered out a heads of agreement with the examiner, Michael McAteer from Grant Thornton, on Thursday night. The deal still has to be accepted by creditors and the High Court.

The Sunday Business Post has been in examinership since its parent company, Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH), went into receivership on Mar 6. Protection from the High Court, as part of the examinership process, runs out next Friday.

Mr Cooke fronted the consortium, with the managing director of Key Capital, Conor Killeen, acting as an adviser. It is not known if there is another investor as part of the bid. They have agreed to pay €750,000 for the business with a commitment to invest another €250,000.

Staff voted to accept new terms as part of the deal. These include a reduction in redundancy terms of two weeks for each year of service to one-and-a-half weeks for each year of service for the nine members of staff who have already accepted voluntary redundancy.

It is not known whether there will be further redundancies. However, existing Sunday Business Post employees also agreed to a reduction in notice periods from three months to one month.

If there are any redundancies over the next 12 months, the new terms will be one month’s salary plus statutory entitlement. The new owners are also proposing an employee share ownership plan of 6% of the company.

Staff had to agree to these conditions by the close of business yesterday evening, although any employee on holidays has until Wednesday.

Mr Cooke and Mr Killeen beat off a rival bid from ex-Newstalk CEO Frank Cronin.

Neither Mr Killeen or Mr McAteer were available for comment.

It is not known what the new owners intend to do with the newspaper. The title has had a difficult few years since the economic crash. Revenue fell from €15.6m in 2007 to €7.3m in 2012. Circulation has also been in decline, with the latest ABC figures registering just below 40,000.

The Sunday Business Post has a daily news service which has attracted a considerable amount of online subscriptions, though figures are not available.

TCH went into receivership on Mar 6. A new company, Landmark, acquired most of its assets, including the Irish Examiner.

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