ASX-listed Southern Cross Media keen on NZME's radio empire

The interest is in line with South Cross Media Group's focus on "operational effectiveness in its existing businesses and investing in new growth opportunities." 

ASX-listed Southern Cross Media Group has confirmed it's keen on NZME's New Zealand radio empire, The Radio Network, and has let the Kiwi company know.

Southern Cross Media, which owns several regional radio and television stations in Australia, has expressed interest in "potentially acquiring the New Zealand radio assets of NZME" provided they can be carved out of the Kiwi company's print business, it says.

The interest is in line with the Australian company's focus on "operational effectiveness in its existing businesses and investing in new growth opportunities that leverage its expertise in audio and entertainment.”

NZME declined to engage with Southern Cross Media due to the exclusivity provisions of its merger agreement with Fairfax New Zealand.

The New Zealand company's radio and experiential division posted a 4% drop in revenue to $108.7 million last year, saying its direct ad revenue in regional markets struggled, while Auckland revenue was stable.

NZME is waiting for the Commerce Commission to make a final decision on whether to let a planned merger with Fairfax proceed.

A draft determination shot down the proposal, saying the expected financial gains for the merged entity would be outweighed by the impact on the diversity of media coverage, something NZME and Fairfax say is outside the regulator's remit.

If the merger doesn't go ahead, Fairfax NZ's ASX-listed parent, Fairfax Media Group, has said it is end-game for the Kiwi division.

The Australian media company has already received a low-ball from an unknown suitor, while NZME has said it will weigh up its options.

NZME shares climbed 5.8% to 73c, while Southern Cross Media's stock fell 1.3% or $A1.3125.



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