Irish Times set to acquire Examiner
Deal includes eight other titles and holdings in three local radio stations Financial details not disclosed but AIB takes ‘significant debt restructuring’
The Irish Times DAC has agreed a deal to acquire all the publishing and media interests of Landmark group, the Cork-based company that owns the Irish Examiner newspaper and other media assets.
Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed but AIB has taken what is described as a “significant debt restructuring” as part of the process. The share purchase agreement was signed on Tuesday.
The acquisition will require separate approvals from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Minister for Communications, and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. This is expected to take between four and six months to complete.
Landmark’s interests include the Irish Examiner national newspaper and the daily Evening Echo. There are also seven regional titles – the Waterford News & Star, the Western People, the Nationalist, the Kildare Nationalist, the Laois Nationalist, the Roscommon Herald, and the Naas and Newbridge Nationalist.
Its radio assets comprise a 75 per cent stake in both WLR in Waterford and regional station Beat, and a 17.6 per cent holding in Cork station Red FM.
Landmark’s website interests comprise Breakingnews.ie, Irishexaminer.com, Recruitireland.com, and 75 per cent of Benchwarmers.ie.
The Irish Times DAC publishes The Irish Times and operates an extensive digital publishing platform, with more than eight million users a month. It also owns leading property website Myhome.ie and has a number of publishing contracts with third parties.
The Irish Times newspaper had an average daily circulation of 62,423 between January and June of this year while the digital edition had an average circulation of 15,234, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The Irish Examiner’s average circulation was 28,338 while the Evening Echo’s was 9,880.
Liam Kavanagh, managing director of the Irish Times, said the proposed transaction was a “once-off opportunity in a market that will definitely consolidate”.
“We don’t underestimate the challenges ahead but this combination could underpin the future of two long-standing, Irish-owned media organisations . . . that are like-minded editorially.”
Mr Kavanagh said the intention was to keep the “core identity and independence” of the respective news titles. Each would retain their editorial integrity and the overall increase in audience would allow the group to build a digital platform with a strong reach at home and abroad, he said.
The consolidation also presented the opportunity to strengthen and grow existing print advertising revenues, and to secure contract print revenues.
Mr Kavanagh said the Irish Times was committed to working with the respective unions in each company on any restructuring proposals that would need to be made. The combined entities would have publishing revenues of about ¤100 million and employ about 900 staff.
In a note to staff, Tom Murphy, managing director of Landmark Media, said the sale of its assets to the Irish Times was in the “best interests of all of our newspaper and other media companies and assets”.
“Consolidation within the industry is an inevitable outcome and both Irish-owned groups will be best positioned to survive and prosper as part of a larger, stronger and better resourced entity,” he added.
Mr Murphy said it would be “business as usual” for the Cork-based group while it awaited regulatory approvals.
The National Union of Journalists said it would seek assurances on the security of employment for staff involved in the acquisition. Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said: “We welcome the assurance by Liam Kavanagh that the editorial integrity and independence of the titles will be maintained.”
Liam Kavanagh, managing director of the Irish Times, said the proposed transaction was a “once-off opportunity”.