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Denis O'Brien's media empire just got that bit smaller

But the O’Brien-controlled Independent News and Media wants to use its new cash windfall to expand in Ireland.

Irish media and telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien
Irish media and telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

TELECOMS TYCOON DENIS O’Brien has walked away from Australian and New Zealand media and advertising group APN News and Media after a long history of involvement in the company.

Independent News and Media (INM), in which O’Brien is the largest shareholder, and the billionaire’s private investment company Baycliffe have cashed out a combined stake of about 30% in APN for an estimated AU$300 million (€216 million).

A large piece of that share was snapped up by News Corporation, the media company run by Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose international publishing empire includes The Sun, The Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Australian competition regulators still need to clear that part of the deal.

INM expects to receive about €121 million from its part of the sale and it will use the money to pay off all its debts.

The company said the move would release it from the “restrictions on … activities” like chasing other acquisitions that had prevailed while it was saddled with loan repayments.

After the sale it expected to put in place cheaper loans to give it the option to “invest in digital strategy, including potentially in relation to bolt-on acquisitions”.

87th Academy Awards - 21st Century Fox And Fox Searchlight Oscar Party Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch Source: AP/Press Association Images

‘Focus on Ireland’

INM, which published The Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, Herald and Sunday World, recently reported it spent €9.3 million on redundancies last year as its ad revenue grew marginally for the first time in seven years.

Chief executive Robert Pitt said the company would now be able to “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”.

APN is the biggest newspaper publisher in New Zealand, while in Australia it owns a network of regional papers and several major radio stations.

READ: Ireland’s biggest newspaper group spent €9.3 million on redundancies last year >

READ: Things are not quite going to plan inside UTV Ireland >

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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