Antony Catalano closes in on Prime Media with $4m share purchase

Australian Community Media’s owner, Antony Catalano, is set to purchase a greater stake in regional TV company Prime Media Group, buying almost 19 million additional shares at $0.225 each, at a total cost of $4.245 million. The shares are currently held by Bruce and Judith Gordon via J.P. Morgan Nominees Australia Pty Ltd.

The deal was struck on 5 March and lodged with the stock exchange this morning, but is subject to approval from the Australian Communications and Media Authority – as required under the Broadcasting Services Act – due to its potential to adversely impact media diversity.

WA Chess Investments – Catalano’s company with business partner Alexander Waislitz – will make the purchase, with Catalano, Waislitz, and Catalano’s wife Stefanie Catalano among the entities which will each hold 73,229,427 shares should the agreement get the green light from the regulator.

The ACMA told Mumbrella it is currently considering the application.


The announcement ends a stalemate between dominant shareholders Gordon and Kerry Stokes. In late 2019, Catalano upped his stake in the regional media business to 14.6% to block a proposed merger between Prime and Stokes’ Seven. The merger had received the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s approval, but was ultimately voted down by 53.53% of shareholders, including Catalano and Gordon.

When he began in the top job in 2019, Seven’s CEO James Warburton announced the Prime merger, but a few months later, after Catalano’s intervention, told Mumbrella: “It would have been better for both of us, would have changed the game in terms of one buy and national reach. It would have changed the game for us, and been of benefit to both shareholders, but it didn’t get up.”

The transaction strengthens Catalano’s hold over the regional media market. In April 2019, the real estate entrepreneur bought ACM from Nine for around $115 million, and has since taken a controlling stake in and announced a $100 million joint venture with the property portal, ending ACM’s relationship with Nine’s Domain, where Catalano was once CEO.

“Our push more aggressively into the property space and in particular into digital solutions provides a broader and more sustainable revenue base, which will enable us to continue to grow and invest in not only the communities we operate in, but we’ll be doing our bit to keep journalism funded and alive in Australia,” Catalano said late last year.

The entrepreneur has a long history with the media market. He was impacted by a redundancy in his role as property editor and marketing director for The Age, going on to launch Metro Media Publishing in 2010. The next year, Fairfax took a 50% stake in Catalano’s venture for $35 million, and in 2013, Catalano rejoined the company as Domain’s CEO.

At the start of 2018, Catalano resigned as CEO, after successfully spinning the company out into a separate ASX entity. He then attempted to intercept the Nine and Fairfax merger, making his own play for Fairfax.


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