“Embattled newspaper publisher Independent News & Media (IN&M) this afternoon confirmed that it was close to unveiling a financial rescue that would allow the owner of The Independent to pay off an overdue €200 milion bond,” reports TimesOnline. Full post at this link…
The newspaper group fell into the red in the first six months of 2009 – a result of a massive drop in advertising revenues, reports MediaGuardian.
The group has reported a pre-tax loss of €48.5 million (approximately £42.7 million) for the six months to the end of June – compare this with last year’s profit of €96.8 million (£85.2 million) – and cited the costs of reducing staff, writing down the value of its newspaper titles and other ‘exceptional items’.
Advertising revenues for the group fell by 25.8 per cent from the last report to €608.8 million (£535.6 million).
Independent News & Media ‘will likely agree another extension to a standstill deal with holders of a 200 million euro ($283 million) bond originally due for repayment in May’, an industry source said, according to Reuters. It reported today:
“The Irish publishing group has until Aug. 27 to agree a deal with holders of the senior debt but the industry source, who declined to be named because talks are ongoing, said another rollover was inevitable as this month’s deadline looms.”
INM declined to comment, Reuters said.
The latest on the Independent News & Media financial negotiations, as reported by the Irish Times:
“Bondholders in Independent News & Media (IN&M) are negotiating with the company on the resolution of an overdue €200 million note on the basis that key investor Denis O’Brien will not sign up to current proposals.”
Last month, in an interview with the Irish Sunday Times, O’Brien said that it was possible IN&M might go into bankruptcy protection.
France has extended the age range of its free newspaper subscription scheme. The country’s government will now offer a free newspaper once a week for a year to 18-24-year-olds, under the 600 million euro scheme.
Metro International shares have plummeted on news of increased losses and a prospective bid falling through, but CEO, Per Mikael Jensen, remains optimistic.
“It was not a good quarter, but we could have done much worse,” Jensen told me, after the company posted grim financial news this morning.
Its net losses for the first quarter (Q1) of 2009 more than doubled compared to the same period last year, from 6.4 million euros to 15.3 million euros, and year-on-year net revenues decreased 24 per cent to 55.6 million euros from 73.4 million euros in Q1 2008.
The freesheet giant also announced that a mystery bid, which led the company to postpone seeking a rights issue to raise more capital earlier this year, had been stranded on the bidder’s inadequate financing arrangements.
The news caused Metro shares to fall sharply, but when I talked to Jensen, he professed to take comfort in the share doing better than before the bid emerged in February.
“I think people were calculating on a divestment,” he said, adding that he was not sure if the timing of the rights issue, which will now go ahead, would be any worse than two or three months ago.
In January, Metro shocked the market by closing its fully owned operation in Spain, which published the free daily newspaper Metro in seven Spanish cities, with immediate effect. However, in the last few months the company, which has 81 editions in 22 countries, has launched titles in Moscow and Mexico’s second city, Monterrey.
“It’s been our expressed strategy to grow in Russia, Asia and Latin America, markets that are not as mature as the European, for some time now,” Jensen said.
Read more about the consequences of the recession for free newspapers here.
Belgian media company Persgroep Publishing is set to pay 100 million euros for a 51 per cent stake in Dutch media group PCM Uitgevers, publishers of de Volksrant, Trouw and NRC Handlesblad.
Yes, Monday was two days ago but Frédéric Filloux’s take on Sarkosy’s media prescription is a good read and clearly set out. “Tons of cash for publishers, little in return,” Filloux starts.
“That’s the Sarkozy prescription to ‘save’ the press. For €600m ($767m) to be spent over three years, the French president is buying if not influence, the French media barons’ ear and goodwill. This is not a stimulus package. This is a band-aid to an ailing industry that has a shown a tremendous resistance to change, at every level.”
Robert Basic, IT expert, owner and only author of the popular forum, said in a post that he had put the blog on eBay, because it was ‘time for a change and to build up something new’. At time of writing, Basic’s last entry had received 444 comments.
Metro International, the freesheet publisher, said it doesn’t expect to break even in 2008: so far this year has lost a total €3.97 million (£3.08 million) from its seven websites in Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Chile, France and Spain.