APN considers NZ float

APN News and Media is considering an initial public offering of its New Zealand arm on the New Zealand Stock exchange.

The plan to float the New Zealand business has come after APN NZ’s acquisition in February this year of the remaining half of The Radio Network (TRN), which the company now owns wholly alongside newspapers including The New Zealand Herald, as well as digital businesses such as trading site GrabOne.

APN chief executive Michael Miller praised the progress of recently appointed NZ chief executive Jane Hastings and her team.  “We’re very optimistic about some of the plans that are currently in place,” told NewstalkZB, which is owned by TRN.

“That has started us to give some consideration to how a New Zealand-only business could work and how a New Zealand business could look at its priorities differently to the broader APN group.

“The greatest value for shareholders is it is a combined entity now with a CEO that has responsibilities across all the assets and a management team that shares responsibilities as well and that’s in line with best practice for media companies around the world.”

Mr Miller said a separate New Zealand business would have its own board, management and governance, enabling it to pursue its priorities separate from the broader APN group.

In a panel with other publisher CEOs at The Newspaper Works’ Future Forum in Sydney last month, Mr Miller said advertisers and agencies were increasingly looking to media companies with a broad artillery of media assets.

“We live in a world where consumers are increasingly interacting with multiple media,” he said at the event.

“We’re also seeing our agency partners booking campaigns – they’re not booking individual media but they’re particularly looking at how the parts of individual campaigns come together.

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APN News & Media CEO Michael Miller at the 2014 Future Forum last month

“Being able to present an integrated [solution] – be it our print and radio assets, or outdoor assets, is becoming far more attractive in a discussion with media agencies.”

Spinning off its New Zealand arm would allow APN NZ to independently further its integrated offering as New Zealand’s leading radio network, publishing group and digital business, Mr Miller said.

“We need to understand the differences by the individual markets the brands are for, but there’s some overlap between those markets and that’s where there should be greater collaboration across all the businesses,” he told NewstalkZB.

Mr Miller said the decision to proceed with the IPO would depend on feedback from banks and investors. All options were still on the table, including retaining ownership of APN New Zealand or trade sales, which APN would be “duty-bound to consider”. However,  the company would now engage in more detailed conversations with banks and investors to inform its decisions.

He told Radio New Zealand that he felt both radio and publishing were strong assets to the company.

“Radio is continuing to grow as an industry in NZ and publishing is definitely seeing recovery in international markets as a greater share of focus of those businesses is on consumers and a greater share of revenue is coming from consumers rather than advertisers,” he said.

“That’s on the back of holding audience levels and seeing increased revenues from consumers paying for content online.”

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