APN in crisis

The Australian is reporting that APN is in crisis. Their shares have a trading halt, there is a board insurrection, as late as Friday their CEO and some of the board were insisting that there was nothing untoward. However now there is a full out board crisis:

APN News & Media has been thrown into deep crisis, with chief executive Brett Chenoweth, chairman Peter Hunt and three non-executive directors believed to be considering tendering their resignations as they face a block vote against a proposed capital raising.

The extraordinary move, which could happen as early as this morning, comes after an emergency board meeting was called yesterday where all the independent directors agreed a capital raising was required immediately to reduce debt levels of about $470 million.

Mr Chenoweth and Mr Hunt could be joined in handing in their resignations by non-executive directors Melinda Conrad, John Harvey and John Maasland, who all supported the motion in favour of a capital raising at the board meeting. 

It is believed the five directors consider their positions to be increasingly untenable after failing to win approval from board members Vincent Crowley and Peter Cosgrove and directors appointed by the largest shareholder, Independent News & Media. At a tense board meeting in Sydney yesterday afternoon, Mr Crowley and Mr Cosgrove refused to support the capital raising from the outset on behalf of INM because of the parlous state of the Irish publisher’s balance sheet.

Mr Crowley and Mr Cosgrove are the representatives for INM, which has a 28.95 per cent shareholding in APN.

The potential metrics behind a capital raising were not discussed, and supporting board members made the point that Macquarie Capital has advised APN in the strongest possible terms to go ahead with a capital raising.

The directors feel INM is forcing their hand with the support of the second-largest shareholder, Allan Gray.

With APN’s debt dwarfing a market capitalisation of $198 million, the directors feel they may have no choice other than to exit the board, with the situation said to be highly fluid.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.