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'Irish Examiner' and local papers sold in complex restructuring

The ‘Sunday Business Post’ will ask the High Court to appoint an examiner as the previous parent company enters receivership.

The Irish Examiner has been bought by a new firm set up by the Crosbie family, after the existing parent company entered receivership.
The Irish Examiner has been bought by a new firm set up by the Crosbie family, after the existing parent company entered receivership.
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated, 18:34

THE ‘IRISH EXAMINER’ and a series of local papers have been sold as part of a complex internal restructuring, after their existing parent company went into receivership.

The Examiner and a series of related regional titles, including the Cork-based Evening Echo, have been purchased by a new company formed by the Crosbie family who owned the previous company.

The sale has been made by Kieran Wallace of KPMG, who was appointed as receiver to Thomas Crosbie Holdings Ltd (TCH) – the previous parent company behind the newspapers – earlier today.

The Sunday Business Post, the other major paper published by TCH, is to apply to the High Court to enter examinership – a process where the company is protected from winding-up orders as it attempts to establish a viable business plan.

Another related company, Thomas Crosbie Printers Ltd – which printed TCH’s newspaper titles – is to apply to be put into liquidation with the loss of 12 jobs. The titles purchased by Landmark Media Investment will now be printed at the Irish Times’ printing presses in Citywest.

New firm takes over local titles and radio stations

TCH’s local papers – the Waterford News & Star, the Wexford Echo, the Western People, the Roscommon Herald, and the ‘Nationalist’ local newspapers in Carlow, Laois and Kildare – have also been purchased by the Crosbie family’s new vehicle, which has also purchased TCH’s digital businesses.

The new company also hopes to take over TCH’s shareholding in the local radio stations WLR FM, Beat 102 and Red FM, but will need to seek regualatory approval from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland before this can be completed.

The procedures are continuing with the support of AIB, the main lender to the group.

Tom Murphy, the chief executive of the new vehicle, said today’s arrangements “represent an important opportunity for the Irish Examiner and associated titles and media to make a fresh start and that is very welcome news”.

“In a challenging environment, this re-structuring and consequent acquisition provides a stable platform from which to build a sustainable business. I look forward to working closely with the management and staff to review and improve operations to successfully achieve this aim.”

The media outlets bought by Landmark Media Investments employ a combined total of 554 people, all of whom will be taken on by the new firm on their existing employment terms and conditions. Landmark Media Investments intends to continue publishing each title as usual.

The Sunday Business Post employs 76 people, who will be retained by the interim examiner if appointed at the High Court tomorrow. That paper will also continue publication if the examiner is appointed.

The National Union of Journalists said it was “gravely concerned” about the potential threat to the future of the Sunday Business Post, and that it would seek an urgent meeting with the new owners of the other papers.

It said the loss of any of the titles would be a “disaster”, and that staff had made significant sacrifices in recent years to ensure the future of the titles.

“Our members employed in these titles require urgent clarification of the implciations for them of this complex restructuring. The safeguarding of employment and of media diversity is a priority for this union,” it said.

“We hope this marks a new phase in the history of the company and look forward to engaging in a postive manner with the new owners on the protection of terms and conditions of employment.”

Read: Newspapers record falls in circulation in second half of 2012

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Gavan Reilly

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