APN News & Media is to sell its South Island newspaper
interests, along with its Wellington-based community papers.
In a memo to staff, APN, which owns The New Zealand
Herald, describes the decision to quit the twice-weekly
giveaway Christchurch paper, The Star, the Oamaru
Mail and a clutch of other small, community titles in the
South Island and Wellington as a "strategic decision to
consolidate its publishing business in the North Island.''
The Star, published Wednesdays and Fridays, has an audited
circulation of 71,644, while the Oamaru Mail is one of
the country's smallest, with a circulation of just 2883.
APN has a strategic relationship with the privately held
Allied Press, publishers of the Otago Daily Times in
Dunedin. Almost all other South Island newspapers are owned
by APN's chief competitor, Fairfax Media.
The Star unit also publishes several Canterbury
community papers: the North Canterbury News, Pegasus Post,
News Advertiser, Selwyn Times, The Observer, and
Its Wellington community newspaper stable, the Capital
Community Newspaper Group, is published under the "City
Life'' brand in several localised editions and competes with
Fairfax weekly giveaway papers.
APN will retain the Kapiti News community paper, and
announced no further plans relating to any of its other
titles in the North Island, which includes Whangarei's
Northern Advocate, the Rotorua Post, Bay of Plenty
Times, Wairarapa Times-Age, Wanganui Chronicle, and
Hawkes Bay Today.
The company announced early this year that its New Zealand
assets were all under review and flagged a masthead valuation
writedown as journalism moves online, with consequent loss of
advertising revenue for traditional media.
Dual-listed, but traded mainly on the ASX, APN shares have
lost 62.87 percent of their value in the last 12 months, and
were trading unchanged today at 31 Australian cents (40 New
It last commented on the review in October to quash market
speculation it had found a buyer for the flagship
Herald, servicing New Zealand's largest city,
Other assets include a half-share of the Newstalk radio
station network, top-selling magazines The Listener
and New Zealand Woman's Weekly, and an outdoor
In the statement to staff, APN said "while the publishing
division has enjoyed a long association with the South
Island, we see more expansion opportunities in the North
Island, which will drive most of New Zealand's population
growth over the next decade and is where most of our New
Zealand media businesses are based.
"APN remains strongly committed to New Zealand and we will
continue to sell our national magazines and online properties
across the country. The company will also continue a major
association with Christchurch and the South Island through
its 50% ownership of both The Radio Network and APN Outdoor.
The company remained proud of 140 year-old Star's
performance after the February 22, 2011 earthquake, when the
paper converted to daily publication. It was a daily evening
newspaper until the late 1980s.
The company said it intended selling all the businesses as
going concerns with staff transferring with the businesses
into new ownership, although it was too early to say when
sales might occur.