Company says sale dependent on market conditions and a satisfactory valuation

APN News and Media, publisher of the Herald, said it could potentially sell 60 per cent of its New Zealand operation, with a current book value of A$308 million, according to offer documents for a note issue.

Sydney-based APN said this week it was considering strategic options for its New Zealand business, which also comprises several other newspapers, The Radio Network and the online bargain business GrabOne.

"The potential New Zealand transaction is one of several opportunities that we are considering and is dependent on market conditions and a satisfactory valuation of APN New Zealand, amongst other factors," it said in documents accompanying its announcement of a planned US$250 note issue.

The company said it was uncertain as to whether it would proceed with the sale.


"If we decide to proceed with the potential New Zealand transaction, our ownership interest in APN New Zealand may be reduced by approximately 60 per cent," it said. The offering would be based on a number of factors, including market conditions at the time of any sale, it said.

The potential New Zealand transaction assumed in the pro forma financial information was based on the carrying value of the net assets of APN NZ, not the fair value of that business.

"On this basis, pro forma gross proceeds to APN from the potential New Zealand transaction would be A$308 million," it said. APN said proceeds from the potential transaction would be used to reduce debt.

"The proposed issue of notes in the US market would enhance the flexibility we achieved in the recent refinancing, and extend our debt maturities," chief executive Michael Miller said.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's, in its report on the proposed issue, rated APN at "BB" with a stable outlook. "Our business risk assessment on APN reflects the group's significant market position in radio broadcasting and meaningful operating diversity, which provides the company with an adequate level of diversification away from the structurally declining newspaper industry," S&P said.

"The ultimate rating impact is contingent upon the final transaction structure - if it occurs - as well as the group's financial policies and future growth strategy following the transaction," S&P said.

APN, listed on the ASX and NZX, has a market capitalisation of A$761.5 million. For the 12-month period ended June 30 it generated revenues from continuing operations of A$828.5 million.