Belfast Telegraph

Court approves takeover of Belfast Telegraph owner INM by Mediahuis

Independent House, Dublin, headquarters of INM.
Independent House, Dublin, headquarters of INM.

By Ellie Donnelly

The High Court has approved the €145.6m takeover of Belfast Telegraph owner Independent News & Media (INM) by Belgium-headquartered buyer Mediahuis.

This follows yesterday’s approval of the deal by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

INM will tomorrow seek to register as a private company at the Companies Registration Office, formally beginning its process of delisting from the stock market.

In approving the scheme of arrangement, a legal technique used to execute the financial terms of complex corporate actions, Mr Justice Haughton said the scheme was "well thought out and well prepared".

He noted the "huge majority" of shareholders who had approved the deal, adding that such a large majority would make the Court very slow to interfere in any way.

This clears the way for INM's stock to be bought from all shareholders at the 10.5 cents per share price struck by Mediahuis in April this year and recommended by the INM board.

Trading of INM shares on Euronext Dublin (formally the Irish Stock Exchange) and the London Stock Exchange will be suspended from tomorrow morning, with the cancellation of shares taking effect on 1 August.

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INM will re-register as a private limited company within the next 28 days.

The process to buy up all of INM's outstanding shares from around 7,000 shareholders is expected to take roughly a month.

INM is Antwerp-headquartered Mediahuis's first major move beyond its core markets in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Belgian-Dutch firm was formed in 2013 from a merger of established Belgian newspaper groups. Its titles now include De Standaard in Belgium and Dutch newspapers De Telegraaf and NRC Handelsblad.

The group has three main shareholders.

They are the Van Puijenbroek family, who had a Dutch media business for 70 years before merging with Mediahuis; the Belgian Baert family, whose publishing business dates back 120 years; and Mediahuis chairman Thomas Leysen, whose father led a rescue of Belgium's De Standaard 40 years ago.

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