- 30 Apr 19
Independent News and Media is to be sold.
The final destination of shares in what has long been considered one of Ireland's most powerful companies has not been fully determined yet, but an agreement has been reached by the two majority shareholders, Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond, with the Belgian media group, MediaHuis. The value of the company in the sale is set at €145.6 million.
Independent News and Media owns the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday World, the Evening Herald and the Belfast Telegraph and has a 50% stake in the Irish Star. It is also the owner of a variety of provincial titles.
Between them, Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond own 44.8% of the shares in the company. Following its announcement to the Stock Exchange this morning, the offer was unanimously accepted by the board of Independent News and Media at the company’s AGM.
The deal will be subject to ratification by the Competition Authority. However, this is unlikely to be an issue, as MediaHuis currently have little or no presence in the Irish market.
The biggest loser in the deal is Denis O’Brien, who spent almost 500 million in building up his 29% stake in the company. He will receive approximately €43.3 million in cash from the deal. However, he has long since accepted that the value in his shares was a mere fraction of the price he paid. Rather than being felt as a loss, his exit will more likely be seen as a relief from a misadventure which has plunged him into a series pf battles and controversies – which are not over yet.
MediaHuis was formed in 2013 as a joint venture between two Flemish media groups, Corelio and Concentra, subsequently acquiring the NRC Media group in the Netherlands and the Dutch Telegraph Media Group. MediaHuis is a similar style of publisher to Independent News and Media, publishing numerous newspapers in Belgium and Holland, including De Standard, Het Nieusblad, Gazet van Antwerpen, De Telegraaf, NRC Handelsblad, NRC Next and numerous Durtch regional newspapers. The headquarters of the group is in Antwerp,
According to reports from the company’s agm, the CEO of Independent News and Media, Michael Doorly, confirmed that the company would consider higher offers, if any were made. However, it remains unclear how any alternative offer could trump the agreement already reached, since the sale of the shares by Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond is said to be irrevocable.
Information on the deal is currently sparse, as a result of limitations imposed by the Irish Takeover Panel. However, there seems to be general agreement – especially in the light of ongoing controversy around issues of corporate governance at Independent News and Media, including accusations that journalists emails were hacked by senior management at INM – that this is likely to be a relatively good deal for the staff at the media group, which should enable teh company to look forward with a higher level of confidence.