DUBLIN: The shopping frenzy sparked by the upcoming relaxation of Australia's media rules has engulfed APN News & Media, one of the region's largest multimedia companies and now the subject of a bid by former Heinz ceo Sir Anthony O'Reilly, these days chairman of Dublin-headquartered Independent News & Media.

The bid values APN at around A$2.7 billion ($2.05bn; €1.63bn; £1.09bn). The company publishes 23 daily and more than 100 non-daily newspapers across Australia and New Zealand. It is also Australasia's largest radio broadcaster, with investments in twelve metropolitan radio stations in Australia and 120 radio stations in New Zealand.

In addition, APN is the nation's market leader in the fast-growing outdoor advertising sector, and also operates outdoor businesses in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

IN&M already holds a 41% stake in APN. The deregulation, which will permit foreign ownership of Australian media assets will take effect in February 2007.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff