Two Acquisitions In News Media Sector

Two acquisitions have taken place in the news media sector with the purchase of the Newbury Weekly News by a new joint venture company formed by Iliffe Media Group chief executive Edward Iliffe, and the board of Independent News and Media agreeing a sale to Belgian publisher Mediahuis. 

The Newbury Weekly News purchase, which was formally completed on 1 May, is a joint venture between Edward Iliffe and experienced publisher Peter Fowler under the umbrella of the newly-formed Newbury News and Media Ltd. It is intended to integrate the joint venture within Iliffe Media Group’s operations.

Edward Iliffe, chief executive of the Iliffe Media Group, said: “We are delighted to have concluded the acquisition of this well-respected local newspapers. Iliffe Media, with its long heritage as an independent family-run media business, believes in the future of local newspaper publishing across all platforms and we now look forward to working in a positive way with our new colleagues and the communities they serve.

“I am also pleased to have the association with Peter Fowler in this new venture in Newbury. Peter has worked with the Iliffe family for many years and brings with him a wealth of publishing experience.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Independent reported this week that the board of INM, publisher of the Irish Independent,, Sunday Independent, Sunday World, The Herald, Belfast Telegraph and several regional newspapers, had unanimously recommended the €145.6 million offer, which is conditional on acceptance by shareholders.

Mediahuis is a private European media group publishing major newspaper titles, including De Telegraaf and NRC Handelsblad in the Netherlands and De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium.

Independent News and Media chairman Murdoch MacLennan said: “We didn’t put the company up for sale they have made a cash offer for the business.” He described Mediahuis as a “top of its class” and as committed to maintaining editorial independence.

Mediahuis was founded in 2013 through the combination of the media assets of two long established Belgian publishers, Mediahuis Partners (formerly Corelio) and Concentra. Since 2013, Mediahuis has grown rapidly through acquisitions to become a leading media player in both Belgium and the Netherlands. It currently employs more than 3,200 people, delivering a turnover of €819 million in 2018.

The publisher is active in the Belgian radio market through the recently launched radio station NRJ and the Nostalgie radio station, which reaches 430,000 listeners in Flanders daily and is the market leader in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Mediahuis also operates a series of regional TV channels.

Gert Ysebaert, Mediahuis chief executive, said: “Underpinned by our unreserved belief in independent and quality journalism, we are optimistic about the combination of Mediahuis and INM and its potential contribution to the Irish media landscape.”