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Earnings drop for APN News & Media

Last updated 12:22 21/02/2013

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APN News & Media, owner of the New Zealand Herald, has posted a significant annual loss amid declining revenues and written down its New Zealand and Australian publishing assets by A$510m.

The media company - which saw its chairman, chief executive and three other directors resign this week after a disagreement with major shareholders - reported a A$455.8 million ($559.2 million) statutory annual loss for 2012. The company experienced drops in revenue and earnings over the year.

An impairment charge of A$151m, relating to APN's publishing assets in both New Zealand and Australia, followed the A$485m writedown announced in August.

Within that, APN's New Zealand Metro segment which mainly comprises the New Zealand Herald newspaper, took another A$39.6m impairment hit on intangible assets at year end on top of a A$372m writedown in August.

The Herald's segment is now valued on the books at A$132.5m.

Setting aside the exceptional items and impairments, APN's profit still dipped 30 per cent from A$78.2m in 2011 to A$54.4m in 2012.

As for the key issue of APN's debt, over which the board members recently quit, the company reported it had decreased its debt level by A$180m in 2012 to A$449m, and planned to shave another A$40m to A$50m in the 2013 financial year.

"Reducing APN's debt level is an ongoing objective," the company said when announcing the results. It planned to do so by further cost-cutting in its publishing arm as well as some asset and property sales.

The company's statement to the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges said the 13.4 per cent revenue decline was largely due to the effects of a joint venture with its outdoor advertising business.

Previously APN enjoyed 100 per cent of the profits of APN Outdoor but took an A$8m hit on net profit due to now sharing half of income under the joint venture.

Revenue from APN's New Zealand Media segment dropped 5 per cent while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) fell 23 per cent to A$47.8m.

APN has opted not to issue a dividend.

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