How much trouble is APN really in?

APN requested a freeze in the trading in their stocks today on speculation of a rift in the board:

Shares in Australasian publisher and broadcaster APN News and Media went into a trading halt today after a news report called into question the leadership of chief executive Brett Chenoweth while the company considered a capital raising.

Independent News and Media (INM) – which owns 28.95 per cent of APN News and Media – has called for Chenoweth’s resignation, saying that it had “lost confidence” in him.

In a statement released to INM’s Irish Independent, INM announced it was seeking the removal of Chenoweth as director and chief executive of APN News and Media, which owns a host of radio stations and newspapers across Australia and New Zealand, including the New Zealand Herald.

INM said it had “lost confidence in Mr Chenoweth’s ability to implement the strategic initiatives necessary to reposition APN for the more challenged media landscape that has emerged in Australasia”.

“Notwithstanding its market leading positions APN has underperformed as evidenced by a near halving of APN’s interim profits in the period from the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2012,” INM added.

INM has formally advised APN of its views and it is now seeking an extraordinary general meeting to allow all APN shareholders to express their views. 

Bloomberg has additional reporting:

APN shares have fallen 61 percent over the past year amid a slump in advertising and a A$485 million writedown of its New Zealand publications. The stock closed at 30 Australian cents yesterday, giving it a market value of A$199 million.

The publisher, which is due to report annual results Feb. 21, hired Deutsche Bank AG in May to review its New Zealand newspaper business after receiving approaches from potential buyers. In December, it said it would sell some regional units amid a 10 percent decline in group revenue over the period.

Which is all a bit of bummer given the launch of the new look Herald on Sunday.

Could APN be in more serious trouble than they are letting on? Given the appalling performance of the Herald and herald on Sunday and the crass standard of their journalists perhaps it isn’t that surprising they are in serious trouble.

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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.  And 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 that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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