APN mulls NZX float

NIKO KLOETEN
Last updated 12:33 01/09/2014

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APN News & Media will look to retain a stake in its New Zealand business if it goes ahead with a stock-exchange listing, APN's group chief executive Michael Miller says.

APN said today it was considering strategic options regarding APN New Zealand, which incorporates its New Zealand publishing assets, The Radio Network and GrabOne businesses.

APN has retained corporate advisory firm Grant Samuel to assist in the process, with an IPO and NZX listing of APN New Zealand being one consideration.

In May, APN announced the appointment of Jane Hastings to the newly created role of chief executive of APN New Zealand.

Miller said APN New Zealand had made good progress since Hastings took over, and it was this success that had triggered the review.

"We see there's value there," he said.

Listing was "just a consideration" at this stage, with the other options being a trade sale if there were direct approaches, or keeping full ownership of the business.

"We're not actively shopping APN New Zealand and there's nothing on the table today to consider. Should the right offer come along we're duty-bound to consider it," Miller said.

However, if an IPO did go ahead APN would be looking to retain at least some stake in APN New Zealand, he said.

"We don't see ourselves exiting the market. One of the questions we'd ask would be what percentage stake we sell down to."

A listed APN New Zealand would be a New Zealand-only company and would be "far more New Zealand-oriented", Miller said.

"It would have an independent board and management looking just at the investments and operations for the New Zealand. It wouldn't need to be considered in the broader APN group."

APN recently announced sales revenue for New Zealand media was down 13 per cent to A$135.6 million (NZ$149.8m) for the half year to June 30 compared with the same period the previous year.

Operating profit for the New Zealand media arm dropped 13 per cent to A$22.7m.

Despite the drop and recent high-profile struggles of several big media companies in Australia and New Zealand, Miller said there were signs of a turnaround in the media market.

"There's lots of evidence of newspaper companies particularly in the US showing increased valuations in the last 18 months, with greater focus on audience, improved digital revenue and greater focus on local markets."

APN New Zealand was looking to make better use of the links between its different media arms, citing Disney, ESPN and Australian company Seven West Media as examples of companies that had successfully used multimedia platforms, he said.

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But Trade Me founder Sam Morgan was not convinced APN New Zealand would make a good investment.

He tweeted today: "Invest in a shrinking and structurally challenged business! Best deal since the Yellow Pages."

- Stuff

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