Independent to Raise New Cash

27 March 2003

Dublin-headquartered Independent News & Media is selling some of its British operations and undertaking a rights issue to reduce debt.

INM has agreed an €88 million ($94m; £60m) sale of its UK regional newspapers to US publisher Gannett, and is planning to offload other non-core units. In addition, it will conduct a €107m rights issue. The goal is to reduce the company’s debt from €816m at the end of last year to €566m.

Posting full-year 2002 results, the group reported profits of €22.2m, down from €61.8m the year before. This decline reflected an €82.5m write-down on its stake in Irish cable unit Chorus; excluding such exceptional items, pre-tax earnings rose by 8% to €129m.

Revenues dropped 2.3% to €1.31 billion, though in constant currency terms this marked a rise of 1%. Newspaper ad income slipped 3.2%, with an 8% slump at its British titles (including struggling The Independent and Independent on Sunday).

Looking ahead, executive chairman Sir Anthony O’Reilly stayed positive: “The combination of improving sentiment, a fortified balance sheet, our robust brands and a proven operational track record point to continuing favourable performance prospects for the group.”

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff