APN News & Media has received Overseas Investment Office approval for its plan to split out its NZME unit ahead of a potential merger with rival Fairfax Media's New Zealand operations.

The Sydney-based company today said the exemption to the Overseas Investment Act relating to the proposed demerger was granted, though it was still subject to other regulatory approvals and exemptions. Trading in APN shares on the NZX was halted today pending an announcement, in what was already a period of ?deferred settlement to let a share consolidation be processed.

Last Thursday, APN's shareholders overwhelmingly backed plans to carve out the New Zealand unit as a standalone listed company, freeing up APN to focus on Australian radio and outside advertising business, while NZME can pursue its merger with rival Fairfax New Zealand.

The trading halt is still in place.


APN, which also trades on the ASX, last traded on the NZX at $4.76, reflecting the one-for-seven share consolidation approved at the meeting. The shares have gained 24 percent this year on that consolidated basis.

At the time, chief executive Michael Boggs told BusinessDesk he was planning to spend the next 10 days meeting and greeting current and potential investors in Auckland, Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne.

In Australia, APN is looking to sell its regional newspaper business ARM, which has a portfolio of 12 daily and more than 60 non-daily Australian regional newspapers, so it can focus on its digital growth strategy.

The Australian newspaper today reported APN is looking for A$50 million for the regional paper network, and Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp and Singapore-based social media marketing firm Fetch Plus had lodged binding offers when final bids were due on Friday.