Bauer Media to offload Australian publishing arm

Bauer Media to offload Australian publishing arm

Just six weeks ago Bauer Media completed its acquisition of publisher Pacific Magazines from Seven West Media (ASX: SWM).

But today the company has announced plans to offload its entire Australian publishing business, including Pacific Magazines, to private equity firm Mercury Capital.

The sale comes as the German-owned group has been struggling to generate revenue during the COVID-19 crisis, resulting in the company making 70 staff redundant and winding down its New Zealand publishing business.

Mercury Capital will acquire all of Bauer Media Australia's print and digital assets for an undisclosed sum which cover women's entertainment & lifestyle; fashion, beauty & health; homes; food; motoring & trader lifestyle categories.

Australian titles currently held by Bauer Media include Better Homes and Gardens, Woman's Day, TV WEEK, Who, The Australian Women's Weekly, Marie Claire, Elle Australia, Girlfriend, Home Beautiful, Belle, Australian House and Garden, Australian Men's Health, Wheels, and many more.

The agreement also includes those brands recently acquired by Bauer from Pacific Magazines and Bauer's New Zealand mastheads, including titles like New Idea and That's Life.

"Bauer Media remains committed to magazine publishing. This decision supports our strategy to invest in our market leading brands where we believe we are best placed to do so," says Bauer Media COO Veit Dengler.

"We have been proud to be the custodian of these iconic brands in Australia. I would like to thank our talented teams for their commitment and the contribution they have made to Bauer Media. I wish them well for the future."

The sale is still subject to regulatory approvals in Australia, with completion of the transaction expected by the end of July 2020.

Bauer Media completed the acquisition of Pacific Magazines from Seven West Media on 1 May after a six-month process during which the transaction attracted the attention from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

After the watchdog gave the pair the greenlight to complete the transaction in March, the sale was meant to have been completed on 9 April.

However, come 8 April Seven West Media was forced to institute court proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court to compel Bauer Media to complete the transaction.

Bauer obliged and revised the completion date of the transaction to 1 May.

The deal saw Bauer pay SWM $40 million in cash consideration, pre-adjustments and leave provisions, as well as $6.6 million in advertising over three years in Bauer publications.

The sale of its Australian and New Zealand titles also follows Bauer's announcement earlier in April that it had discontinued its New Zealand publishing business.

Bauer Media NZ published entertainment, lifestyle and current affairs titles including the NZ Listener, Woman's Day, New Zealand Woman's Weekly, North and South and Next, along with a digital network.

EY was appointed to work with Bauer New Zealand to facilitate an orderly wind-down of the business.

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