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APN to close printing plant with 150 job losses

Wednesday 20th October 2010

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APN News & Media, which publishes the New Zealand Herald and owns The Radio Network, will close down its loss-making magazine printing operation in Manukau at the end of next month, with some 150 people set to lose their jobs.  

The company has entered a 10-year outsourcing arrangement with ASX-listed PMP, which will become the publisher's exclusive provider of gloss printing services.

APN first flagged it was carving out the Auckland business in its 2009 annual report  and since then it's tried to secure alternatives such as selling the plant as a going concern or bringing in a joint venture partnership.  

"We would have preferred an alternative that did not impact on the staff in this way, but APN's own requirements for specialised gloss printing are not sufficient to justify continued investment by APN in the business," said publishing and print chief executive Martin Simons in a statement.  

There will be limited opportunities for redeployment in other parts of the business and some staff will keep working for another three months decommissioning the plant, he said. 

The company didn't say how much it will save from the closure, but the plant made a loss of A$1.8 million in the 2009 financial year and a A$3 million loss in the year before that, with annual expenses of A$24.1 million and A$37.3 million respectively, according to its annual report.

The plant's total assets held for sale were valued at A$15.1 million as at December 31, while liabilities were at A$10.4 million.  

Yesterday, APN's New Zealand unit said it's looking to raise up to $200 million in a five-year public bond offer. The shares were unchanged at $2.56 on the NZX and A$1.96 on the ASX.

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