Revised bid sends Fairfax to six-year high

Prashant Mehra
Revised bid sends Fairfax to six-year high
Revised bid sends Fairfax to six-year high

Fairfax Media shares have hit their highest level in six years after a consortium led by US-based private equity giant TPG Capital upped its takeover bid by $500 million and widened it to now include the entire company.

TPG and its partner, Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, have raised the bid for Fairfax Media to $2.76 billion, revising a previous partial proposal to make their offer an all-cash deal at a price of $1.20 per Fairfax share, for the entire media company.

Fairfax shares last Friday closed at $1.07 each, indicating a market value of $2.46 billion for the company but on Monday, in the wake of the new offer, the stock ended at $1.14, its highest level since May, 2011 and valuing the company at $2.62 billion.

TPG-OTTP had previously offered $2.2 billion for a major part of the company, including its Domain real estate classified business, the unit controlling flagship newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and its events and digital ventures businesses.

Under the first proposal, the remaining businesses - including regional newspapers, New Zealand Publishing, Macquarie Media and the Stan streaming service - would be grouped under a new ASX-listed company called New Media Co, which would also take on 100 per cent of Fairfax's current net debt.

Fairfax's board had been tipped to reject the offer after it indicated the proposal may not be good value for shareholders and may be too complex to carry out anyway.

On Monday, the company said it board is reviewing the new proposal and will update shareholders when it has been fully assessed.

Regardless of the proposal, Fairfax is continuing to progress the preparation for its spin-off and listing of the Domain business, the company said.

The takeover offer comes amid a trying period for the media giant, with many of its journalists participating in a week-long strike following last week's announcement that 125 jobs would be cut at The Age, The Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and WA Today.

Fairfax had announced the job cuts to save the company $30 million.

The revised takeover bid will be subject to a due diligence, shareholder approval at a Fairfax scheme meeting, and regulatory approvals, including from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and New Zealand Overseas Investment Office (OIO).