Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

US private equity firms bid for Australia newspaper empire

US private equity firms bid for Australia newspaper empire

It's equates to more than the $1.20 per share proposed by TPG Capital and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board.

The sale of Fairfax is looking increasingly likely with the media company receiving a new buyout offer from a second global private equity outfit and inviting both suitors to conduct due diligence.

Despite TPG's commitment to grow the Fairfax mastheads rather than cut them, there's concern that public interest journalism will be lost in favor of using the papers merely to bolster Domain's reach in key markets. "Traffic is dollars to us", Mr Hywood said.

The private equity firm's emergence this week is no accident.

He also called on Treasurer Scott Morrison to impose conditions on any foreign bid for Fairfax, including promises to safeguard journalistic independence, jobs, and quality.

Hellman & Friedman has previously invested in Axel Springer, the German publisher that owns Business Insider. Scout24 is helmed by former REA Group executive Greg Ellis.

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The Fairfax board had been aware for a while that Hellman & Friedman had been sniffing around, but did not know of its intention to bid until it received notification on Wednesday evening.

"The Fairfax Board appreciates the support shareholders have demonstrated for Fairfax's current strategy and the potential separation of the Domain Group", Fairfax Chairman Nick Falloon said in a statement to the ASX this morning.

The firm counts as its senior adviser and chairman emeritus Brian Powers.

While Powers will be taking an active interest in the current bid for Fairfax, the executive running the process for Hellman & Friedman is its deputy chief executive, Patrick Healy.

The multimedia media company based in Sydney was founded in 1841 and is also one of two companies that dominate the New Zealand newspaper industry.

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