Following protracted negotiations, The Irish Times is to purchase all the publishing and media interests of the Cork-based Landmark Media Group for an undisclosed sum.
Apart from the Irish Examiner, the company’s other interests include the Evening Echo, the Waterford News & Star, the Western People, the Nationalist, the Kildare Nationalist, the Laois Nationalist, the Roscommon Herald and the Naas and Newbridge Nationalist. It also owns 75% of WLR in Waterford and regional station Beat as well as a 17.6% stake in Cork’s Red FM. It’s digital assets, meanwhile, include RecruitIreland.com, BreakingNews.ie, IrishExaminer.ie as well as a stake in the sports website Benchwarmers.ie.
The most recent set of accounts for Landmark – for 53 weeks to January 1st 2017, show that it reported a turnover of €47.34m and an operating profit of €847,490. Pre-tax profits, meanwhile, amounted to €229,000 while the group’s bank debt amounted to €16.9m. As part of the deal, Landmark’s main banker, AIB, had agreed to take a write-down on the amount it is owed by the company.
The deal will now require the approval of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Minister for Communications, and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Speaking to his own newspaper, Liam Kavanagh, managing director of The Irish Times, said the proposed transaction was a “once-off opportunity in a market that will definitely consolidate”.
“We don’t underestimate the challenges ahead but this combination could underpin the future of two long-standing, Irish-owned media organisations…that are like-minded editorially,” he said.