Carlyle and Providence in Australia media deal

The Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners have become the new partners for Irish publishing group Independent News & Media in the latter’s listed media business in Australia and New Zealand.

APN News & Media is the latest target in Australia’s media sector to be acquired by international private equity groups in a proposed transaction that values the business at A$3.8 billion ($2.95 billion; €2.3 billion).

The Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners are investing alongside existing 41.6 percent shareholder Independent News & Media, a listed Irish publishing group, according to a statement. The consortium has raised its offer to $6.10 a share for the entire issued share capital of APN.

The board of the Australia and New Zealand-listed media concern has agreed to back the offer, according to a filing with the exchange.

Upon completion of the transaction, the Irish publishing group will hold a smaller 35 percent stake in APN, while Providence and Carlyle will control 37.5 percent and 27.5 percent interests respectively. The Irish owner will continue to hold the largest voting interest for 39.3 percent in APN and have preferential rights on exit by other consortium members, it said in a statement.

The offer has been raised from $6.02 a share, which the consortium, offered in October last year, before Carlyle joined Independent News and Providence. The pair had been planning to split the deal, 60: 40, with Providence taking the larger share, a spokesman said.

The latest offer represents a multiple of thirteen times estimated 2006 earnings at APN. The full-year consolidated earnings before interest, tax and depreciation of APN, scheduled to be announced 20 February, is estimated at $348 million, according to the company.

Carlyle and Providence acquiring APN follows CVC Capital Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts acquisitions in Australia media sector following the easing of laws allowing foreign ownership.