VENTURES AFRICA – Insolvent Irish News and Media (INM) have made the move to sell its South Africa publishing business.
INM has over the years struggle with a net debt of €426 million ($522 million) and had issued a two profit warnings in the last year.
The company has already appointed advisers to help with the sale of its business. The business could be valued at €250 million ($306 million).
Money made from the sales will be used to pay the company’s debt.
Likely buyers of the publishing house include South African conglomerates Shanduka Investment Holdings, run by high-profile businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, and Sekunjalo Investment Holdings.
“INM continues to assess a range of strategic options to deleverage its balance sheet. These include cost reduction and productivity initiatives which are progressing well. No divestment decisions have been taken by the board,” an INM spokesman said:
The INM South Africa operations accounts for a third of the group revenue and half of its operating profit.
Last year the South African division reported revenues of €194.6 million ($238 million) and operating profit of €37.6 million ($45 million).
INM publishes leading titles like The Star in Johannesburg, The Cape Times in Cape Town, The Mercury in Durban and the Pretoria Times. The company owns the country’s largest property website.
The move to sell the business came three month after Gavin O’Reilly, the founder’s son, was forced to step down from his role as the company’s chief executive as a result of the lingering criticism in management from major shareholder, Denis O’Brien.
The INM South Africa business was established by Tony O’Reilly on his commitment and friendship with South Africa’s ex-president, Nelson Mandela.