May 15, 2017

Private equity makes a big newspaper play

AP Photo/Rob Griffith

TPG Capital and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan have revised their takeover offer for Australia's Fairfax Media. The firms originally bid A$2.2 billion to acquire Fairfax's metro newspaper and real estate classifieds unit, but now are offering A$2.76 billion for the entire company (which actually lowers the overall enterprise value a bit from the initial approach).

Why it matters: Private equity firms have avoided mass-market print media for a while now, but TPG is betting that the value of Fairfax's online real estate classifieds business (called Domain) is worth taking on not just the big metro dailies, but also a mishmash of smaller, regional papers. If TPG is successful, the big question for Australian news consumers, will be how long TPG can stomach that particular headache.

Bottom line: "The $2.76 billion now on the table will not be high enough to get the board to agree to open the company's books to TPG and its partner, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, but it is not far off. Key shareholders in the target company believe the bidding consortium now means business." ― Australian Financial Review

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