Fairfax reports Catalano's Domain spinoff being worked on by Macquarie Capital

Fairfax reports Catalano's Domain spinoff being worked on by Macquarie Capital
Fairfax reports Catalano's Domain spinoff being worked on by Macquarie Capital

Fairfax shares were placed in a trading halt on Tuesday morning after The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk column revealed spin off plans on Monday. 

The media group seems set to retain between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of Domain under the separation plan.

Fairfax Media is considering a proposal to "spin off" its real estate business Domain. Analysts expect Domain to be worth about $2 billion as a separately listed entity.

The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk advised no formal decision has yet been made.

It wrote Fairfax is "seriously considering spinning off Domain into a separately listed vehicle to be run by current Domain boss Antony Catalano."

Macquarie Capital is advising Fairfax, it revealed.

The article comes as Fairfax prepares to hand down its financial results for the six months to December 31 on Wednesday.

Domain is expected to be a key feature at the results announcement despite recent reports of a constipated listings market.

A Fairfax spokesperson declined to comment to the AFR columnists.

Sources told Street Talk key Fairfax decision makers thought that "the time was right" to enact the long-speculated spin off plans before the end of the year.

The business column described Domain as the shining light within Fairfax earning about $130 million a year for the publishing company.

Goldman Sachs analysts expect Fairfax to report $139 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the six-months to December 31, with Domain accounting for $65 million.

Goldman Sachs told its clients on Monday that it was "all eyes on Domain" with particular focus on any pushback from agents on January price rises.

Last November the billionaire small cap investor Alex Waislitz urged Fairfax Media to consider changing its name to Domain to reflect its growing real estate listings business is now worth more than the entire company’s market value.

Waislitz, whose listed fund Thorney Opportunities (TOP) and private fund Thorney Investment Group own more than 50 million Fairfax shares, suggested the Fairfax name was “anachronistic” and urged the media company to consider rebranding itself.

“We think Domain alone is worth in excess of the entire market capitalisation of Fairfax," The Australian reported.

Last December when speaking to Mumbrella, Antony Catalano said there was “no need” for the real estate business to float separately.

“When you have a business that is growing as quickly as Domain is growing then we have an obligation to our shareholders to realise the value of this business,” he said.

“Fairfax is never going to float this business when so much of the value still hasn’t been realised.

"We’ve said publicly this is a business we expect to grow from $120m EBITDA to somewhere in excess of $200m EBITDA over the next two to three years."

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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