2 Sep 2014

APN considering asset float

9:06 am on 2 September 2014

APN News & Media may float its New Zealand assets and list them on the local stock exchange.

APN owns the New Zealand Herald and other newspapers, a string of radio stations, including Newstalk ZB and ZM, and the GrabOne website.

The company said it had hired corporate advisory firm Grant Samuel to advise it on what to do with its New Zealand assets.

Chief executive Michael Miller said the selling of the New Zealand businesses is at this stage just a consideration, but the announcement is part of its continuous disclosure obligations and will allow it to approach investors and bankers to seek further advice on whether a partial sell down is something the company wants to pursue.

Mr Miller said it was too early to comment on whether the book value of the assets were indicative, and he company's decision on whether to proceed with an IPO option will be based on feedback.

"Part of the process which we announced was to engage with banks and investors to get their feedback on valuation."

Analysts say there's unlikely to be much appetite for the businesses, unless the price is heavily discounted.

Last month, the trans-Tasman newspaper publisher and broadcaster announced a 77 percent jump in first-half net profit, largely reflecting it buying more radio stations.

Mr Miller rejected the suggestion that the radio assets are the company's good ones and the newspapers are a dying business.

"Radio definitely continues to grow as an industry in New Zealand, and publishing is definitely seeing recovering in international markets as a greater share of focus of those businesses are on consumers and a greater share of revenue is coming from consumers rather than advertisers.

"That's on the back of holding audience levels and also seeing increased revenues from consumers paying for content online."

APN appointed Jane Hastings to the new role of APN New Zealand chief executive in May. Ms Hastings previously headed The Radio Network.