Antony Catalano has struck an A$115 million (US$81 million) deal to buy Nine Entertainment’s regional newspaper group, formerly owned by his old employer Fairfax Media.
The deal to secure Australian Community Media (ACM), which operates around 170 regional newspapers including The Canberra Times, The Examiner and The Newcastle Herald, was made by Catalano and billionaire Alex Waislitz’s Thorney Investment Group.
Nine announced the deal Tuesday morning, with the sale to be completed by 30 June. It said it expects the cash proceeds of the sale to amount to A$115 million, of which A$10 million is to be paid in 12 months time.
As part of the deal, Nine will receive an additional A$10 million in advertising on ACM properties over three years from completion of the sale.
The deal includes an agreement for the printing of Nine’s metropolitan titles to continue and a "short transitional period" of content sharing. The Canberra Times takes news stories from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Nine chief executive Hugh Marks said in a statement that the sale of ACM was "aligned with our strategy to exit non-core businesses and to focus on Nine’s portfolio of high-growth, digital assets".
"We will retain a commercial relationship with ACM and look forward to continuing to work with the business in areas where there are mutual benefits to both Nine and ACM," he said.
The long-expected deal places Catalano in control of assets formerly owned by Fairfax Media, where he worked as chief executive of real estate classifieds business Domain until January last year.
Nine Entertainment acquired Fairfax Media last year in an estimated A$4 billion (US $3 billion) deal that shuttered the Fairfax brand.
The acquisition included titles such as The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review, a majority stake in Domain, streaming service Stan and a 54.5% stake in the Macquarie Media radio network.
Catalano made a last-ditch attempt to derail the deal with his own offer, but the Federal Court approved the takeover in November.