Independent News and Media Oz sale will see it clear all debts

Independent News and Media (INM) has agreed to sell its stake in an Australian media company for more than €120m.

Independent News and Media Oz sale will see it clear all debts

INM has enlisted the services of Credit Suisse to dispose of its 18.6% stake in APN, owner of a number of radio stations in Australia and New Zealand and publisher of the New Zealand Herald.

The sale, at approximately €0.63 per APN share, will garner proceeds of €121.3m, with net proceeds of €115m.

All of the proceeds will be used to repay INM’s debt, completing the group’s deleveraging strategy.

“Following the announcement of INM’s preliminary results for 2014, 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, build on current performance and position it for further development at a time of economic recovery in Ireland,” said INM Group chief executive Robert Pitt.

The sale will be completed in two tranches, with the first worth €54.9m and due for completion later this month, while the latter is expected to pull in an additional €66.4m before expenses.

Under the terms of the agreement, Credit Suisse has agreed to acquire, or procure the acquisition by a third party of, all of the INM shareholding at a fixed price of A$0.88, representing a 6.4% discount to the closing price of A$0.94 on Wednesday evening.

INM, publisher of the Irish Independent and the Sunday World, says it intends to put a revolving credit facility in place, whereby a commitment is made to use funds as they are needed and which is accompanied by a fee, which will give it greater flexibility to develop its digital strategy, potentially through bolt-on acquisitions.

Meanwhile, as one media group looks to sell its share of APN, another is separately increasing its interest in the Australian firm.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is to up its stake to 14.99% from an undisclosed level — reported by Reuters to be 4.9% — for £107m (€97.5m).

The move increases Murdoch’s interests in his native country to the maximum level allowed for foreign firms — such the US-listed News Corp — without making a formal takeover offer.

Other key elements of Murdoch’s stable of media outlets include The Times, the Sunday Times, and The Sun in the UK with Fox Sports Australia and the Australian newspaper part of News Corp’s holdings down under.

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