Belgian publisher De Persgroep buys Mecom for just under £200m

persgroep-logo-belgieBelgian publisher De Persgroep has agreed to buy Mecom for just under £200 million. Each Mecom Shareholder will be entitled to receive 155 pence in cash for each Mecom Share they hold, which values the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Mecom, on a fully diluted basis, at approximately £196 million.

mecomMecom, a company incorporated under the laws of England, is a European media group, with leading positions in the news and information publishing business in the Netherlands and Denmark. Mecom’s Dutch division comprises the Koninklijke Wegener (Wegener) and Media Groep Limburg (Limburg) businesses. Wegener is the largest publisher of regional daily newspapers and free door-to-door newspapers in the Netherlands. Limburg is the leading regional newspaper business in the Dutch province of Limburg. The Dutch division has a total daily readership of approximately 2.5 million and publishes content in print and in online, mobile and e-paper form. The Danish division publishes two daily national titles and one weekly national title as well as seven daily regional titles and 17 free weekly titles. In total, the Danish division has a daily readership of approximately 500,000. Mecom also operates national and local radio stations, with total listeners of approximately 1 million.

De Persgroep, a company incorporated under the laws of Belgium, is a major operator in the Belgian and Dutch media markets. De Persgroep’s activities consist of news media, magazines, television, radio and online services.

The Transaction will be funded by a combination of existing cash resources and a new debt facility provided by BNP Paribas Fortis S.A./N.V.

Commenting on the Transaction, Christian Van Thillo, Chief Executive Officer of De Persgroep, said: “This announcement is consistent with our successful strategy in our publishing activities and with our belief that consolidation in our industry is necessary in order to transform our publications into multimedia brands in a profitable way. Mecom is a leading publishing group with strong and respected news brands in the Netherlands and Denmark.

It further underscores our ongoing commitment to develop innovative multi-media news brands that offer readers a richer experience through printed and digital newspapers, news sites and apps. In addition to operational breadth and depth, the combined business will be better positioned for transformation towards a media group that is leading in print and online.”

Norway, Oslo & UK, London & Belgium, Kobbegem

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Mecom Group sells Danish free sheets to Sjællandske Medier

sn_logoSjællandske Medier has acquired three local free weekly titles (Freesheets) from Berlingske Media, the Danish subsidiary of  Mecom Group for a cash price of DKK 37.5 million (€5.0 million), payable in full at completion.

The Freesheets comprise three weekly publications and two media houses, which together contributed €0.9 million mecomto Mecom’s profit before tax in 2012, excluding central overhead allocations. The Sale will be a transfer of the trade and assets of these operations, and will result in the deconsolidation of approximately €2.6 million of assets from Mecom Group’s balance sheet.

Berlingske Media has also agreed to acquire the outstanding 25 per cent minority interest in a printing company subsidiary of Mecom, for DKK 6.5 million (€0.9 million).

The sale is expected to complete on 1st June 2013.

Denmark, Copenhagen

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Mecom acquires additional shareholding in Wegener

Mecom Group PLC is to acquire a 13.3 per cent. interest in Koninklijke Wegener N.V. from funds managed by Governance for Owners (“GfO”) for a consideration of 8,659,201 ordinary shares in Mecom (which, based on the closing share price on 13th March 2012, implies a transaction value of €16.9m). On Completion, Mecom will hold 99.7 per cent. of the ordinary share capital of Wegener. GfO’s shareholding in Mecom post Completion will be 7.1 per cent.

Wegener is the largest publisher of regional daily newspapers and free door-to-door newspapers in the Netherlands. Wegener’s seven regional daily titles account for 23 per cent. of the country’s total paid-for daily newspaper circulation by volume, and its more than 200 door-to-door weekly freesheets have a daily readership of around 5.5 million.   In addition to its core print business, Wegener owns and operates a portfolio of more than 200 websites, comprising the online editions of its seven paid daily newspapers and most of its weekly freesheets, and several standalone special interest websites.

Wegener’s total revenue from the audited accounts for the year ending 31st December 2011 was €513 million, of which 46 per cent. came from advertising and 40 per cent. from newspaper circulation. Wegener’s profit before tax for the year ended 31st December 2011 was €37 million. The consolidated gross assets of Wegener as at 31st December 2011 amounted to €639 million.

The transaction allows for simplification of Mecom’s group structure, provides operational and commercial efficiencies and will enhance earnings per share for the Group going forward. The acquisition is classified as a Related Party Transaction under the UK Listing Rules and therefore requires the approval of Mecom shareholders at a general meeting, to be held on 2nd April 2012

Tom Toumazis, Chief Executive of Mecom, said, “The acquisition of this substantial minority shareholding in Wegener will simplify the Group’s ownership structure and allow us to integrate our Dutch operations fully within one legal structure and management team.  We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Governance for Owners in their new position as shareholders in Mecom.”

UK, London & Netherlands, Amsterdam

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