NZ Herald business editor at large

NZME market listing a 'momentous day'

Michael Boggs and NZME director Carol Campbell 'ring the bell' as NZME lists on the NZX yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker
Michael Boggs and NZME director Carol Campbell 'ring the bell' as NZME lists on the NZX yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker

It's a momentous day," says NZME chief executive Michael Boggs, just before the bell rang for yesterday's listing of NZME.

"For a number of reasons."

The market turmoil sparked by the Brexit vote was unavoidable but Boggs said he didn't think potential investors in NZME would see it as central to their decision making.

Shares in NZME first traded at 85c on the NZX giving the company - which owns the Herald, radio stations such as Newstalk ZB and Hauraki, and the e-commerce site GrabOne - a market value of $166 million.

"It's great to be listed and great to have the board member meeting for the first time," Boggs said.

There had been "a little volatility during the day and we were likely to see a little more in the coming days as shareholders solidified their positions", he said.

Less than 1 per cent of NZME is currently owned by New Zealand shareholders so there was a huge opportunity for local investors to get involved.

"That's a real opportunity for us to grow the New Zealand shareholder base."

NZME split from parent company APN News & Media after shareholders voted in favour of a demerger plan earlier this month.

Boggs said NZME had undergone a substantial transformation process over the past 18 months, with the integration of the company's publishing, radio and digital assets.

"With a new, standalone structure in place, NZME is now well positioned to take advantage of a number of emerging opportunities in digital, data and online media and developing new revenue streams through video, events and experiential."

For the past few days he has been focused on educating shareholders about what NZME is and how it is different to its former parent company APN. Boggs counts off about 18 well-attended investor meetings in Sydney and about half a dozen in Melbourne.

"If we'd had those discussions 18 months ago we'd have been talking about all the things we planned to do," he says.

At that time a lot of shareholders and market analysts were wanting to see things happen.

"So to be able to say that all those things we said we were going to do, we've done", was pleasing.

"Whether that be achieving the financial performance or integrating the editorial and commercial teams and growing new revenue streams."

Now the story was very much about continuing to diversify those revenue streams while building on the key pillars of print, radio and the e-commerce business, he said..

"I think we have a good platform for those discussions now."

Some in the market will be focused on the proposed merger with Fairfax NZ.

"Right at the moment there is not a lot more that we can say. We are in the process with the Commerce Commission."

The commission has flagged it will reach a decision by August 22, but that could change, Boggs said.

NZME has initially targeted a dividend payout ratio of 60-80 per cent of its underlying net profit after tax.

NZME chairman Sir John Anderson said the company was a leading integrated media and entertainment business in New Zealand.

NZME shares closed yesterday at 80c.

- NZ Herald

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