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Business as usual at Fairfax as private equity firms exit

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Fairfax Media’s spin-off of Domain from the publishing group will proceed after TPG Capital and Hellman & Friedman failed to make a binding offer for the company after six weeks of due diligence.

The move to separately list Domain on the ASX was originally announced in February, alongside the company’s first half results.

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood said today plans were moving ahead accordingly.

“We are making excellent progress with preparations and have progressed all the necessary regulatory approvals to meet our timetable for completion by the end of 2017. We will provide a complete update at our full-year results,” he said.

The Fairfax board assured shareholders the company had a bright and “attractive future”.

The company also has committed to growing other portfolio assets. Key aspects of these plans include the continued establishment of a next-generation business model for Australian Metro Media and the further growth and monetisation of digital brands, including video streaming site Stan. Fairfax also said it would continue to grow commercial interests in New Zealand and Australian Community Media.

In a statement to the ASX this morning, Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon thanked shareholders for their support during the private equity process.

“The board appreciates the support that shareholders have demonstrated for Fairfax’s current strategy. That support has been communicated during this process with the strong desire for Fairfax to progress the Domain separation and to continue to execute on its plans.

“The Fairfax board believes the company is well-positioned to continue to deliver substantial returns for shareholders in the medium and long-term future. Fairfax’s digital businesses are growing strongly and we have established plans for our traditional media businesses.

“With media reform expected later this year, Fairfax will actively look to maximise value given the strategically important businesses we own,” Mr Falloon said.

Fairfax is expecting its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to sit between $262 million and $266 million when it reports its full-year results on August 16.

The company first received indicative offers from private equity firms in May. The first offer from TPG Capital and Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan was for 95c per share, or $2.5 billion, for Domain and several metro mastheads. This offer was revised to $1.20 – $1.25, or $2.76 billion, for 100 per cent of the business one week later at the behest of the Fairfax board. Rival private equity firm Hellman & Friedman entered the ring on May 17, offering $1.225 and $1.250, or around $3 billion, for the whole company.

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