Antony Catalano gets mini-media comeback through buyout of Nine's regional newspapers

Antony Catalano gets mini-media comeback through buyout of Nine's regional newspapers
Antony Catalano gets mini-media comeback through buyout of Nine's regional newspapers

Antony Catalano has succeeded in his bid to buy the regional newspaper assets which formerly belonged to Fairfax from its new proprietor, Nine Entertainment.

Australian Community Media's portfolio of 160 regional titles includes The Newcastle Herald, the Illawarra Mercury and The Border Mail. The deal also includes 130 community-based websites with property advertising.

The deal struck is with Catalano and Thorney Investment Group, the ASX listed investment company headed by Alex Waislitz.

It marks a return to the media industry for the former Domain chief executive Antony Catalano.

Nine's redundant regional news 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.

Nine retains 59 per cent of Domain.

Hugh Marks, the CEO of Nine, said the sale is in line with their strategy.

“The sale of ACM is aligned with our strategy to exit non-core businesses and to focus on Nine’s portfolio of high-growth, digital assets," Marks said.

"We will retain a commercial relationship with ACM and look forward to continuing to work with the business in areas where there are mutual benefits to both Nine and ACM.”

Nine has announced cash proceeds from the sale are expected to be around $115 million, of which $10 million will be paid in 12 months.

Nine will also receive up to $10 million of advertising over the three years from completion.

The deal is expected to be completed by June 30.

Nine signalled it would sell the regional titles following its merger with Fairfax Media, which Catalano forlornly attempted to block at the last minute by proposing to buy a 19.9 percent share of the publisher.

Marks also says it’s continuing with talks to sell another two arms of its business, Stuff and Events.

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