Hear that shuffling sound? It’s the noise made by the increasingly desperate directors of APN News & Media and Fairfax Media trying to jettison their New Zealand print assets, while dancing to the tune of News Corp Australia. And why is the Murdoch clan playing puppet master? Because it controls 14.9% of APN (and News’ chairman, Michael Miller, is a former APN CEO, who before that gig was a trusted News executive), and that is the key to what could turn out to be the last big print shuffle in this part of the world.
According to media reports this morning, APN wants to raise up to $200 million as well as separate its NZ print (and radio assets). If that is to succeed, News Corp will not only finance up to $30 million of that (and help make it a success) but will pick up 14.9% of the about-to-be-spun-off NZ assets. And, if APN and Fairfax do more than just talk and complete a merger of their Kiwi newspaper interests (subject to competition reviews), News will end up as the major shareholder in any merged company, giving itself trans-Tasman dominance.