Glenn Jeffrey

APN unveils IPO, NZX float plan

APN News and Media, publisher of the New Zealand Herald and this news site, has announced it is considering an initial public offer (IPO) and sharemarket float for its New Zealand business.

The businesses under consideration for the IPO would include the NZ Herald, the Herald on Sunday, digital services, regional and community papers, all of its radio assets under TRN and all of online daily deal site Grabone.

APN is expected to start talking to possible investment community partners.

The timing of any possible deal or IPO was yet to be determined. APN has retained Grant Samuel to assist in the process.

APN is expected to remain a major shareholder if an IPO takes place but the new company would have its own board and governance.

APN said it was happy with the progress of the New Zealand businesses.

APN NZ CEO Jane Hastings said closer collaboration between all APN's media businesses has only just begun but is starting to pay off for the company.

"We are seeing a positive response from big advertisers and the Group sees this as a key future strategy," she said.

Earlier this month APN said it had boosted first half profit 77 per cent as year-earlier charges washed through, buoyed by Australian and radio operations.

Net profit rose to A$27.2 million, or 2.4 cents per share, in the six months ended June 30, from A$24.6 million, or 1.7 cents, a year earlier, the Sydney-based company said.

The media group bought out US partner Clear Channel in Australian Radio Network and TRN in New Zealand for A$246.5 million this year, rounding out an overhaul of its portfolio to ditch underperforming assets and shore up its balance sheet.


Stations in the network include NewstalkZB, Classic Hits, ZM, Radio Hauraki, Radio Sport, Coast, Flava, Hokonui and the Farming Show.

The group's New Zealand media unit reported a 1 per cent decline in revenue to A$135.6 million, though that was down 13 per cent in New Zealand dollar terms, and a 1 per cent fall in Ebitda to A$22.7 million, also down 13 per cent in local currency terms, reflecting the sale of South Island and Wellington newspapers and several magazine titles, including the weekly Listener magazine, to Germany's Bauer Media.

APN's New Zealand shares last traded at 85 cents, and have gained 82 percent so far this year.

APN's origins lie in Provincial Newspapers, a listed regional newspaper publisher acquired in 1988 by interests associated with Irish multi-millionaire Tony O'Reilly.

The company was renamed Australian Provincial Newspapers and rejoined the ASX lists in 1992 following a public issue shares. In 1998, the name was changed to its current title, APN News and Media.

APN went on to extend its interests and became Australia's largest publisher of regional newspapers - principally in Queensland and northern New South Wales, producing 14 daily and more than 50 non-daily publications. It is Australia's largest radio broadcaster with investments in 11 metropolitan radio stations in Australia.

In the latter part of 2001, the group acquired New Zealand publishing house, IN&M subsidiary Wilson & Horton Ltd, for $809m - financed by a combination of ordinary shares, convertible notes and bank debt.