HT&E to offload Soprano stake for $149 million

HT&E is set to free up more capital with the sale of its 25% stake in mobile messaging software group Soprano Design.

In an announcement on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), HT&E Limited announced that a non-binding agreement has been signed for shareholders of Soprano to sell their entire holdings to Link Mobility Group Holdings as (LINK).

The Norwegian LINK is a global Communications Platform as a Service provider, and a leading mobile messaging provider in Europe. The company will pay NOK 3,590 million, or approximately AU$560 million in cash and equity.

The deal values HT&E’s 25% stake at approximately $139 million, and the company will receive $6.2 million in cash upfront and shares representing about 6.15% in the combined LINK/ Soprano business.

That $139 million figure will rise to $149 million after Soprano makes a pre-transaction dividend payment of $40 million ($10 million of which will go to HT&E).

HT&E is currently undertaking due diligence with LINK, before it enters into a binding share purchase agreement. This is expected to take place around 1 July, closing 31 July.

The ASX announcement noted that the transaction won’t be confirmed until this takes place, and also suggested that the potential merger between Soprano and Link will be a “highly attractive transaction” for shareholders of HT&E.

“We believe this delivers shareholders an attractive return on investment and the future potential to provide further balance sheet strength and optionality for HT&E,” HT&E said.

Speaking with Mumbrella after HT&E’s recent AGM and market update, CEO Ciaran Davis said the company has “a very strong balance sheet”, putting it in a “fortunate position” when looking at potential acquisitions.

“We’ve got a good understanding of the broader media markets through the management team and the board. Outdoor will be one of the sectors that we’ll continue to look at, obviously we have experience running Adshel as well,” he said.

“So yes, it’s one of the ones we will look at, but we’re not only looking at outdoor. Everything’s on the horizon.”


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