Fairfax agrees multi-million dollar Catalano deal

antony_catalano_weekly_reviewFairfax Media has bought into the Antony Catalano-led Metro Media Publishing in a huge deal which sees the company attempt to shore up its real estate revenue.

Catalano started Metro Media Publishing’s Weekly Review in Victoria 18 months ago after being made redundant from Fairfax. By getting key real estate agents on board, the 220,000 circulation title quickly began to eat into the revenues of Fairfax Community Newspapers.

According to an announcement to the ASX this morning, the deal will see the assets of Fairfax Community Newspapers merged into Metro Media Publishing. Catalano will remain at the helm of the company and Fairfax will own a 50% stake. As well as putting the Fairfax Community Newspapers assets into the deal, Fairfax will hand over $35m. The deal values Metro Media Publishing at well in excess of $120m.

The announcement said: “In agreeing to the transaction, both Fairfax Media and MMP have committed to further development of MMP’s existing business model, which enjoys strong support from real estate agents. MMP will continue to provide real estate agents and their clients with the opportunity to participate in product development.”

Fairfax Media’s CEO of Marketplaces Nic Cola said “We are delighted to be partnering with Antony Catalano and MMP to provide a more integrated and improved suite of products to real estate agents and their clients across the combined network. The real estate industry has been a great supporter of Fairfax Media for many decades, and we are committed to ensuring that our product offering evolves in accordance with the needs of both our advertisers and our readers.”

Catalano said “I look forward to a close relationship with Fairfax Media as we set out to embed the MMP ethos across the combined business. “This merger provides the opportunity to roll out Fairfax Media’s Domain brand across the MMP titles, and to build a stronger internet and app presence for the local real estate industry. Both MMP and Fairfax Media see a bright future for high-quality local print publications working closely with real estate agents, and an improved digital presence will only enhance this offering.”

The deal comes at the end of a week during which Fairfax Media shares sank to the lowest in the company’s history – just 68.5c. In early trading today, the share price had lifted fractionally to 71c.


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