Merrill Lynch has named a number of potential suitors for Independent News & Media's (INM) 39% stake in Australasian media group APN News & Media following the disclosure that the Dublin-based company had received several approaches for its holding.
Among those identified by the investment bank were Kerry Stokes' Seven, West Australian Newspapers (WAN), and Lachlan Murdoch's Illyria.
It added that other possible buyers like News Corporation, Fairfax and Macquarie Media may also like certain businesses within APN — which is likely to be broken up.
Merrill Lynch, which has also upgraded APN shares to ‘buy’ from underperform with a price target of $3.55, said that the recent share price sell-off now provides an attractive entry point for “value investors”.
INM, whose interests include the Belfast Telegraph, has said that the sale proceeds would go towards paying down the media group's €1.4bn of debt.
“INM has suggested that if APN is sold, its debts would fall by at least €800m, suggesting a sale value of at least €317m,” said Merrill.
CEO Sir Anthony O'Reilly is the largest shareholder in INM who with associated parties holds 29.5% of the company.