Antony Catalano seeking small-time backdoor Domain return

Antony Catalano seeking small-time backdoor Domain return
Antony Catalano seeking small-time backdoor Domain return

Nine Entertainment has reported its chief executive Hugh Marks has been in contact with former Domain chief executive Antony Catalano and Thorney Investment Group chairman, Alex Waislitz over the future of the regional Domain property listings platform.

Bidders are currently in the due diligence on Nine's redundant regional news business, Australian Community Media, with the second round of offers due April 24.

The ACM business includes regional and community titles such as Horse Deals, Cotton & Grain Outlook, Lotfeeding, Collie Mail, Wee Waa News, the Goondiwindi Advocate, Queensland Country Life, Macleay Valley Happynings (published every Wednesday) and the Dubbo Mailbox Shopper. There's also The Byron Shire Echo where Catalano has property interests.

The future of the challenged online real estate group Domain outside of Australia's two biggest cities is potentially in play as part of Nine Entertainment Co's desired sell-off of 170 regional and community newspapers.

Nine's Hugh Marks lunched with Catalano (above) and Waslitz at the Sydney CBD restaurant The Bentley last month, Nine Entertainment reported, sans advising what chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt served up.

However the Nine report did note Catalano is "considered loyal" to Domain, the News Ltd competitor, notwithstanding the extraordinary attack on Catalano's character in the Australian Financial Review after his dramatic rumour-laden exit from Domain in January 2018.

Nine now owns 59 per cent of Domain.

Last November Catalano attempted to block the Fairfax-Nine merger in an eleventh hour folly that might have gained greater traction had he not left his bid until the Sunday evening before the Monday shareholders meeting.

At the time the SMH advised Catalano held about one per cent of Fairfax and Domain shares.

Jason Pellegrino, who replaced Catalano as its chief executive, has presided over a dramatic share slump.

The Domain shares were at $3.22 when he took over, and are now trading at $2.55 million giving rise to speculation, in The Australian, that the highly regarded Greg Elis could assume the top job following his return to Australia.

Domain director Greg Ellis was a guest on the table of investment giant KKR at the Sydney Institute’s 30th black tie dinner, the paper reported this week.

Ellis recently returned to Australia having finished his gig in Germany running digital real estate and car ads business Scout24, which was backed by private equity giant Hellman & Friedman.

Between 2008 and 2013 Ellis was the boss of Australia’s biggest online real estate classifieds REA Group which now has a $9.8 billion capitalisation.

Domain has a current $1.49 billion market capitalisation. It hit the market with a $2.2 billion valuation under Catalano's leadership in late 2017.


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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