Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

NZME market listing on track

Media firm hopes to win local investors after demerger from Australian parent.
Michael Boggs, chief executive of NZME, is embarking on a roadshow to meet current and potential shareholders. Picture / Michael Craig
Michael Boggs, chief executive of NZME, is embarking on a roadshow to meet current and potential shareholders. Picture / Michael Craig

Newly demerged NZME hopes to attract New Zealand investors as it prioritises its strategy and investments to tune in with local markets, says chief executive Michael Boggs.

Shareholders of APN voted overwhelmingly to approve the demerger of NZME from Sydney-based APN News & Media yesterday.

Boggs will hit the road over the next fortnight to appeal to potential investors in NZME, which is scheduled to start trading on the sharemarket late this month.

Boggs described it as a "significant milestone" which would result in NZME becoming a separately listed business on the New Zealand and Australian markets.

NZME owns the New Zealand Herald and nzherald.co.nz as well as radio stations including NewstalkZB and e-commerce site GrabOne.

Boggs said being part of the wider APN group had created competing demands on capital.

"The good thing now is that as a separate listed entity we do have the ability to manage our own capital and our own investment decisions for the New Zealand business," he said.

The deal still needs Overseas Investment Office approval.

"We would ideally receive that in the next two weeks, which would allow us to be listing on the exchange on June 27," Boggs said.

APN shareholders will receive shares in NZME in proportion to their existing APN shareholding, while retaining their existing APN shares. APN will undertake a one-for-seven share consolidation and shares in NZME will be distributed to eligible shareholders on the basis of one NZME share for one APN share.

The demerger was independent of a proposed merger of NZME with Fairfax Media's New Zealand operations. The companies have filed an application with the Commerce Commission to merge their businesses.

NZME and Fairfax NZ believe a merger would free up investment for high-quality journalism and build a media company with sufficient scale to fight off the impact of Google and Facebook on audiences and revenues.

The commission will look at whether there are separate print and digital markets for both readers and advertisers and if other online offerings are real competitors to New Zealand's stuff.co.nz and nzherald.co.nz websites.

During the next two weeks, Boggs will meet current and potential shareholders in Auckland, Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne.

The demerger was supported by 99.98 per cent of shareholders.

APN News & Media chief executive Ciaran Davis said he wasn't surprised at the level of support and part of APN's focus would be helping NZME's transition.

The New Zealand company was taking just over $100 million in debt - about a third of that owed by the group.

Davis said APN would continue to provide support for a tax case being fought in New Zealand with the IRD.

Sir John Anderson will resign from the APN board to become NZME's chairman, Peter Cullinane will join the NZME board while retaining his place on the APN board to ensure a smooth transition and Carol Campbell, a chartered accountant, will join the NZME board.

Head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners Mark Lister said the demerger was generally positive for NZME.

"While there will presumably be some uplift in corporate costs for the company to operate as a standalone entity, it will be freed from the burden of being run out of Australia as a small part of the bigger APN group. This should hopefully see the company be able to act in a more agile way, with more flexibility," Lister said.

"The New Zealand economy was in much better shape than in Australia and being in control of their own destiny should allow NZME to capitalise on that, despite plenty of challenges in the sector."

The market would generally be very receptive to new listings, he said. This is due to a combination of factors including a very strong performance from the local sharemarket in recent years, low interest rates, a solid economy and growing KiwiSaver funds that need to be invested somewhere.

"We also have little representation from media companies on our market, so it adds a lot having a large, well-known, existing player to the space," Lister said.

"Investors will be cautious about the company, as they are about the sector in general. The industry is still undergoing significant change, numerous challenges, and the outlook is unclear in many ways. At the same time, this presents opportunities for those who can take advantage of such change."

What now

• Overseas Investment Office approval is needed.

• Pending that approval, shares will start trading on the NZX and ASX on June 27.

• Separately the Commerce Commission is assessing a merger application by NZME and Fairfax.

- additional reporting BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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