Nine details offer for Macquarie Media shares, outlines radio plans

• Nine has set up a vehicle to purchase the remaining shares called Nine Bidder

Nine Entertainment Co has released a bidders statement about its offer to acquire the remaining shares of Macquarie Media it doesn’t own to take full control of the company.

When Nine acquired Fairfax it became the majority owner of Macquarie Media as Fairfax’s controlling stake of 54% passed to Nine.

Nine has set up a vehicle to purchase the remaining shares called Nine Bidder, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nine. The directors of Nine Bidder are Nine chief executive Hugh Marks, Nine managing director of publishing Chris Janz, and Rachel Launders, Nine general counsel and company secretary.

In the document, Nine notes the independent directors of MRN unanimously recommend that [shareholders] accept the offer in the absence of a superior proposal and subject to the independent expert appointed by MRN opining (and continuing to opine) that the offer is reasonable.

Nine reminded MRN shareholders in the document the scope of the Macquarie Media assets:

• 2GB Sydney News-Talk is the most listened to station in Sydney and has been the number 1 radio station for over a decade, with 22.1% commercial share
• 3AW Melbourne News-Talk is the most listened to station in Melbourne, with 23.0% commercial share
• 4BC is Brisbane’s only commercial talk station with 12.6% commercial share
• 6PR is Perth’s only commercial talk station, with 13.7% commercial share.

Macquarie Media’s sports offering is delivered via Australia’s first national commercial sports radio network, the Macquarie Sports Radio network, which operates dedicated sports channels in Sydney (954AM), Melbourne (1278AM) and Brisbane (882AM).

MRN also includes digital and online media platforms and Macquarie Media Syndication, which is responsible for the syndication and delivery of programming content.

MRN principally generates revenue from the sale of advertising across its network of radio stations and royalties and commissions.

That business model has been under pressure on the past few weeks with as many as 80 advertisers boycotting the station in protest at comments made by breakfast host Alan Jones. It is not known how long those advertisers will remain off air.

Macquarie Media head of commercial Mark Noakes reached out to advertisers last week as the boycott continued to grow:

“For 122 consecutive surveys, spanning more than 15 years, Sydney listeners have voted 2GB as their favourite radio station. Our audiences have proven to be not only substantial in number, but also incredibly loyal to our stations and presenters.

“In a challenging and results-driven commercial environment, advertisers are searching for the most successful ways to connect their brand with their target audience. There is no denying Macquarie Media’s track record of success and these latest audience figures solidify Macquarie Media’s standing as an attractive commercial proposition for any advertiser.

“We remain grateful to our commercial partners for continuing to choose Macquarie Media’s channels to connect with their customers.”

See also:
2GB’s message: “Attractive commercial proposition for any advertiser”

Should Nine successfully acquire the shareholding it is seeking, the bidding document says it is intended that MRN’s existing business units will be integrated into Nine’s corporate structure.

Nine will then conduct a review to align the MRN business with Nine’s strategic objectives for the Nine group as a whole. Subject to that review, it is intended that the Nine Group will continue to operate the MRN business.

Regarding employees, Nine will conduct an analysis of its ongoing resourcing requirements for MRN as part of the Nine Group’s broader consolidation analysis.

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