Indy News ‘open to sale talks’
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The South African and Australian operations of Independent News and Media (INM), the owner of Business Report, could be put up for sale, according to shareholder activist Theo Botha.
He said yesterday that this emerged in a reply at Friday’s INM annual general meeting at which he asked the question of now ousted chairman James Osborne. Osborne had said asset sales were possible if they would add shareholder value.
Iqbal Survé, the chairman of fishing firm Sekunjalo, was reportedly on his way to Dublin to discuss buying a stake in the South African operations.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the chairman of Shanduka, was also touted as a possible buyer.
INM, which was forced into restructuring in 2009 by its lenders when it could not afford to repay a E200 million (about R2.1 billion) bond, held its annual general meeting in Dublin on Friday. Its debt now stands at more than E420m.
At the meeting shareholders Denis O’Brien, with 30 percent, and Dermot Desmond, with 6.36 percent, sacked Osborne and chief financial officer Donal Buggy from the board. Chief executive Vincent Crowley said Buggy would remain in his executive post despite being voted off the board.
Over five years, INM’s share price has fallen from a high of E27.90 to E0.26 on Friday.
Attempts to obtain comment from INM management were unsuccessful.