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APN NZ fleshes out senior team as carve-out looms

Monday 8th September 2014

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APN New Zealand, the local unit of the Australasian publisher of the New Zealand Herald newspaper, has beefed up its senior executive team as parent APN News & Media mulls carving out the New Zealand arm for a listing on the NZX.

The new appointments include Sandra King as APN group director commercial, Liz McNally as group marketing director, Richard Harrison as group director ecommerce and new ventures, Laura Maxwell-Hansen and group director digital media, Carolyn Luey as director of strategy and operations, and Mark Smith as group GM integrated solutions direct, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. The new leadership team, headed by Jane Hastings, is rounded out by Dean Buchanan as managing director of The Radio Network, Phil Eustace as chief operating office and Dan Blackbourn as group director property.

"The group structure will ensure we don't think vertically but across all of our offerings as consumers pick and mix how they access content," Hastings said. "We are building on the strong content foundation of each of our businesses and offering the market new ways to connect with our audiences."

The APN parent last week signalled plans to share and cross-promote content through its publishing, radio and digital businesses in New Zealand, with a digital paywall flagged for the first quarter of 2015.

"A metered paywall will be progressively introduced for retail customers who will be charged for content above the meter, with a range of digital subscription offers being put to the market to drive digital revenues while current newspaper subscribers will receive a digital subscription at no additional cost," APN said in a disclosure notice last week.

The local executive appointments come as APN considers the sale and initial public offer of 60 percent of the New Zealand business, which would generate some $308.6 million of gross proceeds, based on the carrying value of the unit. Of that, some A$169.4 million would be raised through the float, and a further NZ$150 million from a 'note payable' as a result of restructuring the New Zealand unit. The offer document assumed funds raised would repay A$241.6 million of APN debt, and A$67.1 million would be added to the media group's cash holdings.

APN's remaining 40 percent stake in the APN New Zealand business is estimated to be valued at A$112.9 million, with every 1 percent increase in price above the IPO book value increasing the estimated equity interest by A$1.1 million and cash proceeds by A$1.7 million, the document said. The media group anticipates a spun-out New Zealand unit would adopt an initial dividend policy to pay 75 percent of net profit to shareholders.

The media group said any decision will depend on the final pricing of shares in an IPO.

The New Zealand unit last month posted an 8 percent decline in first-half revenue to A$201.6 million, and a 9 percent fall in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to A$34.6 million, reflecting the sale of South Island and Wellington newspapers and several magazine titles, including the weekly Listener magazine, to Germany’s Bauer Media.

The group's dual-listed shares were unchanged at 92 cents on the NZX, and last traded at 81 Australian cents on the ASX.


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