Jamie Gray is a business reporter for the New Zealand Herald and NZME. news service.

APN announcement due later today

APN chief executive Brett Chenoweth. Photo / Supplied
APN chief executive Brett Chenoweth. Photo / Supplied

Australia's APN News & Media said it had received formal notification requesting that its directors call a general meeting of shareholders to consider the removal of Peter Hunt, Brett Chenoweth, Melinda Conrad, John Harvey, Kevin Luscombe and John Maasland from its board.

APN News, publisher of the New Zealand Herald, said in a statement it intends to make another announcement today (Monday) concerning a potential capital raising "and other matters".

Trading in APN shares went into a trading halt, at the company's request, on Friday after a news report called into question the leadership of Chenoweth, as chief executive, while the company considered a capital raising.

Debt-laden Irish media group, Independent News & Media, which owns 28.95 per cent of
APN News and Media and which is opposed to a capital raising - has called for Chenoweth's resignation.

APN News said the non-INM representative directors of APN unanimously supported Chenoweth and the strategy being implemented under his leadership.

But Australian funds management company, Allan Gray, which has a 19.8 per cent stake - the second biggest after INM's - is also understood to be strongly opposed to a capital raising.

Allan Gray's managing director, Simon Marais, told The Australian last week that a potential capital raising would be a "crazy thing to do", and would "certainly not get our approval", arguing the company is not in danger of breaching banking covenants.

The company's market capitalisation, as of last week, was A$198.5m. A capital raising, expected to be in the form of a rights issue, would be used to reduce the company's debt, which is estimated to be worth about A$470 million.

In an earnings update released last December, APN News said its second half net profit would be affected by the deterioration of publishing revenue in Australia.

"Publishing in both Australia and New Zealand has seen weaker market conditions than in H1, with APN's publishing revenue in H2 down by 10 per cent," it said then.

APN News, in its December trading update, said its net profit before exceptional items, was expected to be $51-$54 million for 2012.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, was expected to be $150m-$155m before exceptional items, for 2012, it said then.

The APN's full-year result is due on Thursday.

Before last week's trading halt, which ends tomorrow (Tuesday), APN News shares were at A30c, having traded in a wide A24.5c to A96c range over the last 52 weeks.

In a separate development, INM has agreed an outline deal to sell its South African media business for 170m ($268.4m) to a consortium, although a final agreement still needed to be signed.


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