Finally, the deal that’s been on again off again for over a decade has been closed.
- MRN and Fairfax Radio to merge.
- Russell Tate chairman, Adam Lang COO, new board to be formed.
- 2CH and MRN Regional stations to be sold.
- The deal requires formal shareholder ratification.
Macquarie Radio Network Limited and Fairfax Media Limited have entered into a merger implementation agreement to unite their respective radio businesses.The much anticipated news has been annoucned today.
MRN will acquire 100% of the share capital of Fairfax Radio Network Pty Limited (FRN) in exchange for the issuance of new MRN ordinary shares to Fairfax and an equalising cash payment of approximately $18 million based on the net debt positions of FRN and MRN at completion. On completion of the transaction, existing MRN shareholders will hold 45.5%, and Fairfax will hold the remaining 54.5% of the fully diluted MRN ordinary shares on issue.
The proposed ‘merger of equals’ brings together Australia’s leading news-talk radio operations which occupy number one overall ratings’ positions in Sydney (MRN’S 2GB) and Melbourne (Fairfax’s 3AW).
The joint venture will also consolidate the operations of an additional five radio stations across Australia: 2UE (Sydney), Magic 1278 (Melbourne), 4BC (Brisbane), Magic 882 (Brisbane) and 6PR (Perth).
As part of the transaction and due to regulatory requirements, MRN will seek to divest 2CH and Macquarie Regional Radio network.
The transaction does not include FRN’s 96FM (Perth) station, which has been sold to ARN.
Russell Tate, currently Executive Chairman and CEO of MRN, will head the merged operations as Executive Chairman for an interim 12 months supported by Adam Lang, currently FRN’s Managing Director, who will be appointed Chief Operating Officer.
In addition to Tate, the Board of Directors will comprise a second MRN nominee, two Fairfax nominees, and one Independent Director.
Tate commented that “the combination of the two networks will unlock significant cost and revenue synergies, and provide national advertisers with ease of access to the increasingly important 45 – 69 year demographic which all seven stations in the combined group attract.”
John Singleton, currently the major shareholder of MRN, said: “Joining forces is a win for both MRN and FRN. Radio was the world’s first form of social media, and the only one I understand.”
Approval of the transaction by MRN shareholders is required under the Corporations Act and ASX Listing Rules. Shareholders will receive an Explanatory Memorandum, including a Notice of Meeting and Independent Expert’s Report, for an Extraordinary General Meeting expected to be held in March 2015.
The proposed transaction is subject to a number of other conditions precedent, which will be detailed in the Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies the Notice of Extraordinary General Meeting. For example, the transaction remains subject to certain regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to complete around March 2015 pending the satisfaction of the conditions.
Each of MRN’s directors intends to recommend that MRN shareholders vote in favour of the proposed transaction at the Extraordinary General Meeting, subject to no superior proposal being received.
Each of John Singleton and Mark Carnegie has indicated that, as the major shareholder and a substantial shareholder, respectively, they will support the proposed transaction and vote in favour of it at the upcoming Extraordinary General Meeting, assuming the various conditions in the MIA are satisfied, the Independent Expert determining that the proposed transaction is in the interests of all shareholders and no superior proposal is received.
MRN is being advised by M. H. Carnegie & Co., Minter Ellison, Gilbert + Tobin and KPMG. Fairfax is being advised by Macquarie Capital, Herbert Smith Freehills and McGrathNicol.