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Private equity giant raises its bid for Fairfax

Business

A consortium led by US-based private equity giant TPG Capital and Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board has raised its bid for Fairfax Media to $2.76 billion.

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The consortium on Sunday revised its previous proposal, offering an all-cash deal at a price of $1.20 per Fairfax share, for the entire media company.

Fairfax shares on Friday closed at $1.07 each, indicating a market value of $2.46 billion for the company.

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 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.

Today, 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).

– AAP

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