BAUER’S MAG­A­ZINE BAT­TLE PLAN

Yvonne Bauer’s reign at the for­mer ACP has been marked by cost cut­ting, rais­ing sus­pi­cions that her Ger­man me­dia com­pany is strug­gling to get full value from its ac­qui­si­tion

The Australian - The Deal - - Front Page - Story Sally Jack­son

Alot of smart and am­bi­tious women have worked in the mag­a­zines busi­ness through the decades and a lot of them have found a home at Aus­tralia’s No 1 pub­lisher, ACP Mag­a­zines. Women such as

Ita But­trose, who in 1972 launched Cleo for then

pro­pri­etor Kerry Packer and also edited flag­ship mast­head The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly; feisty Nene King, who in the 80s won the “mag­a­zine wars” and made Woman’s Day the na­tion’s top weekly; and Pat In­gram, who for al­most 20 years from the 90s ruled its women’s pub­lish­ing arm as

her per­sonal fief­dom.

None, how­ever, has made a greater mark at ACP in a shorter pe­riod of time than a young Ger­man woman named Yvonne Bauer. On Oc­to­ber 1 last year the now 37-year-old, the head and ma­jor­ity owner of fam­ily-owned pub­lish­ing gi­ant Bauer Me­dia Group, in­stantly be­came one of the most pow­er­ful women in the Aus­tralian me­dia when she signed a deal to ac­quire ACP from Nine En­ter­tain­ment Co for a re­ported $525 mil­lion.

In a rare in­ter­view four months later, which was con­ducted with The Aus­tralian through an in­ter­me­di­ary via email, she ex­plained her ra­tio­nale for the deal in the sim­plest terms, say­ing: “We love the printed medium. Print is our core busi­ness: we make pop­u­lar, emo­tional mag­a­zines that are read by mil­lions of peo­ple ev­ery week. Well-made mag­a­zines will al­ways

find their read­ers.”

Bauer has said noth­ing pub­licly since, and was not available to com­ment for this ar­ti­cle. How­ever, over the past 12 months she is said to have been “very in­volved” in the painstak­ing — and of­ten painful — process of re­mak­ing the

Aus­tralian pub­lish­ing in­sti­tu­tion to bet­ter fit the global busi­ness model of its new Ger­man par­ent.

So ex­ten­sive has been that process it has led to con­jec­ture that, once through the door, Bauer ex­ec­u­tives found they faced more of a chal­lenge than they had ex­pected to get the value they want out of the ac­qui­si­tion.

The sale price put the Aus­tralian com­pany’s gross earnings at $65 mil­lion to $75 mil­lion, a frac­tion of the es­ti­mated $250 mil­lion it was turn­ing over a decade ago. In­formed ob­servers

claim Bauer wants to get that fig­ure up to about $100 mil­lion. That’s a hard ask in a sharply de­te­ri­o­rat­ing mar­ket. Print mag­a­zine ad­ver­tis­ing slumped 20 per cent in the year to June and sales fell another 3 per cent in the past half year, with the dig­i­tal prod­ucts launched so far nowhere close to mak­ing up the short­fall.

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