APN News & Media says a review of New Zealand media operations could lead to the sale or acquisition of assets and that it has already been approached by trade buyers and new media companies.
Herald publisher APN has engaged Deutsche Bank to advise on "options to maximise profitability and value for shareholders", chief executive Brett Chenoweth told the company's annual meeting in Sydney yesterday.
"APN has identified a number of opportunities and at the same time received approaches in relation to potential transactions involving some or all of our New Zealand assets," he told investors.
Later he told the Herald: "We've been approached by a number of parties to look at ways we can co-invest in new opportunities together - parties who want us to buy their business in New Zealand and also by parties who want to buy some of our businesses.
"It's not such a big deal as it sounds, but we have decided the responsible corporate approach is to put a formal process in place."
The company has a history of partnering, whether through United States-based Clear Channel for its radio assets or a deal finalised yesterday with Quadrant giving it a 50 per cent stake in APN's outdoor division.
The media market in New Zealand is subdued, and newspaper ad revenue is down - a world trend.
But Chenoweth said there were no preconceived ideas on what assets, if any, would be relinquished.
He acknowledged the small number of operators and cross media ownership in New Zealand would have an impact on the process.
"Nothing we have looked at, we think, has any Commerce Commission issues, but it is a small market and it is fairly concentrated."
He hoped to update markets on the review in half-year results in August.
Sky TV chief executive John Fellet said he had been in discussions with APN on potential joint ventures but they were not on a large scale.
Chenoweth told the annual meeting the company had made substantial progress and was one year into a five-year programme of transformation.
APN recently announced changes to New Zealand media assets including the possibility of publishing the Herald in a more compact format.
The company is also promising tighter alignment between its web, tablet, mobile and print arms.
* APN newspapers include New Zealand Herald, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Post, Hawke's Bay Today, Northern Advocate.
* Online assets include nzherald.co.nz and daily deal site GrabOne.
* New Zealand Magazines division includes NZ Listener and NZ Woman's Weekly.
* APN owns 50 per cent stake in The Radio Network including stations Newstalk ZB, Radio Sport, Flava and Coast.
* APN has sold 50 per cent of its outdoor advertising company to Quadrant Private Equity.