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APN senior staff resign after loss of confidence

Major shareholders force exits after capital raising criticism

Gulf News

Sydney: The chief executive, chairman and independent directors of Australia’s APN News & Media resigned on Monday after major shareholder Independent News & Media (INM) said it had lost confidence in management and scuppered a planned capital raising.

APN said chairman Peter Hunt, chief executive Brett Chenoweth and three independent directors announced their resignations, effective on Tuesday, after failing to convince shareholders to launch a renounceable pro-rate capital raising at its full-year results on February 21.

Irish-based INM, which holds a 28.95 per cent stake in APN, on Thursday said it had ‘lost confidence’ in Chenoweth’s ability to run the company, which includes operations in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, and called on him to quit. INM was backed by fund manager Allan Gray, APN’s second-largest shareholder.

“Independent News & Media plc (INM) and its major shareholder, together with Allan Gray, representing approximately 51 per cent of APN’s shares, have unequivocally indicated they are opposed to a capital raising at the present time,” APN said in a statement.

“The departing directors have a different view on gearing levels to the major shareholders and in light of their opposing position it is not tenable for them to continue.”

INM is best known for its flagship UK publication, the Independent, while APN owns the New Zealand Herald, radio networks, digital titles and outdoor advertising assets.

APN shares were on a trading halt on Monday after closing at A$0.30 (Dh1.1). The stock has crashed from a high of A$6.16 set in 2007.