Thorney takes a slice of Catalano's Australian Community Media

Thorney takes a slice of Catalano's Australian Community Media

Alex Waislitz (pictured) has grabbed a slice of Antony Catalano's regional media group via his listed company Thorney Opportunities (ASX: TOP).

Thorney partnered with the former Domain boss on the $115 million acquisition of the Australian Community Media (ACM) group from Nine Entertainment (ASX: NEC).

TOP has taken a 25 per cent interest in the equity component of the acquisition, and has invested alongside its associated privately-owned Thorney Investment Group which has taken another 25 per cent.

The remaining 50 per cent was acquired by Catalano.

The three parties have formed a joint venture to manage and own the ACM assets.

"While it is very early days, we are excited about the opportunities presented by TOP's participation in the acquisition of ACM," says chairman Waislitz in a letter to TOP shareholders.

"We believe that the combination of Thorney's investment management expertise and Antony Catalano's proven ability to create value from media assets will result in considerable upside for TOP investors over time."

ACM has more than 170 publications under its wings including The Canberra Times, The Newcastle Herald, The Ballarat Courier, The Border Mail, The Launceston Examiner, The Illawarra Mercury, The Land and Queensland Country Life, plus more than 130 associated websites.

Nine Entertainment has confirmed commercial relationships between the community media publications and Nine's premier mastheads (The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Australian Financial Review) will stay in place.

This includes the sharing of content between Australian Community Media and Printing publications and the metropolitan publications, which would remain in place for a "transitional period".

The regional media group was spun off by Nine Entertainment following the media giant's acquisition of Fairfax Media in December 2018.

Following the merger, the new entity became comprised of the Nine network, the Herald, the Age, the Australian Financial Review, a majority stake in property giant Domain, streaming service Stan and a 54.5% shareholding in radio network Macquarie Media, home of Sydney's 2GB and Melbourne's 3AW.

The new owner of the massive portfolio of community papers and websites Antony Catalano tried to stop the merger of Nine and Fairfax in its tracks at the last minute.

After attempting to buy 20 per cent of voting power in Fairfax to try and block the merger vote Catalano said he would mount a court challenge to stop the merger.

Shares in Thorney Opportunities are up 1.48 per cent to $0.68 per share at 10.08am AEST.

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